The Littoral Zone: Australian Contexts and their Writers (Nature, Culture and Literature)

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Popular Features. New Releases. Description In this, the first collection of ecocritical essays devoted to Australian contexts and their writers, Australian and US scholars explore the transliteration of land and sea through the works of Australian authors and through their own experiences. The littoral zone is the starting point in this fresh approach to reading literature organised around the natural environment-rainforest, desert, mountains, coast, islands, Antarctica.

Nature, Culture and Literature: Rodopi book series

Product details Format Paperback pages Dimensions x x Other books in this series. The Littoral Zone Robert Zeller. Add to basket. Culture, Creativity and Environment Terry Gifford. EnvironMentality Roman Bartosch. The Jukebox in the Garden David Ingram. One of the privileges afforded Australian ecocritics writing about local places is the possibility of a personal response: these are their places, and they can add their own layer to the literary.

Places are about memory and ecology intertwined, and this is a particular advantage for those writing about the places of their childhood. Perhaps it had a particular appeal to me, because I now live in Canberra, and it is sometimes hard to find the poetic in a place famous for faceless bureaucrats and ruthless politicians. Rigby writes about all sorts of writers, including scientific as well as literary, as she creates her own ecopoetics of a place surprisingly rich with stories:.

Where a cutting was made to create the road that circles Capital Hill, which now houses the political centre of the nation, a massive geological unconformity was revealed.

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The place is ecologically national as well, and the politics of nature are played out here:. Neither the transcendental romantic wilderness view the American canon nor the pastoral romantic the classic British genre work for the Australian landscape and its peoples.

What Australian writers have that other Anglophone nations do not with the possible exception of New Zealand , is a scientifically literate readership.

In Australian and New Zealand , places settled by Europeans after the Linnaean scientific revolution, the language of science interpenetrates the cultural in writings about nature. Indeed, as I have argued in How a Continent Created a Nation, science in Australia provides a primary, authoritative voice for nature. The idea of the Littoral Zone itself plays with the tensions in the Island-Continent.

Or did it represent the single landmass of Australia?

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Given the Olympic moment, perhaps it went further, with the finale representing the planetary globe, something that spoke to all the athletes present. It is more difficult to speak about unity in fragmentation, but CA. Cranston makes a case for the issues of the Australian literary whole being accentuated in the fragments as she looking closely at the literature of islands: Three Hummock Island and King Island, both in Bass Strait, Tasmania , and then that of the tropical North Stradbroke Island.

A Glimpse Inside the Littoral

All these themes are important in all literature about Australians living in their environment, not just on islands. In Australia the scientific precision of a very physical and not always positive environment is ever present. The vantage point of the Australian poet is not the mythical classical shepherd of Arcadia, but the practical bushman and selector. Even the most privileged Australian squatter has a history of dirt under the nails, while seventeenth century country squires, like Robert Herrick needed the imaginative tropes of the classics to conceive their place because their class was a barrier to dirt.


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In Australia class is another problematic category, not a cause for celebration. In a place where pastoralism is a business of the post-industrial era, literary language can easily be mistaken for anachronism. There were no Edenic years before the industrial revolution in Australia : European settlement in brought the agricultural and industrial revolutions simultaneously. Her work crops up in more than half the chapters, and while the guiding force of the book is the bioregion, Wright is the only writer to be accorded a chapter in her own right. She is, in a very real sense, both bioregional and national — and is an important uniting voice in this book.

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And although New England did not have its own bioregional chapter, there is a separate interdisciplinary study of land, people and memory in New England, High Lean Country. Tredinnick and the other writers who grapple with the pastoral in this collection confront the issue that in Australia pastoral is about work, not leisure. This makes it very distinctive from the subjects of high art elsewhere, particularly the wilderness literature of north America.


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  6. The physical destruction of the ecological systems of Australia by pastoral and agricultural activity is at the heart of ecocritical engagement. Such destruction renders both Arcadian and transcendental voices false in the wide brown land. In a stinging critique of transcendental environmentalism in his own country, the American environmental historian Richard White suggested that the authority for writing about environment should begin with work, not leisure. Perhaps, as Tom Lynch suggests, we need to consider visual arts as well as storytelling in our bioregional understandings, as this is more inclusive of Indigenous perspectives.

    The answer to the question of why this is the first ecocritical collection of Australian writing has taken me on a long and roundabout route through this stimulating book. The second question — why are Australian publishers not supporting such a venture?