Earthen Archives: Ecocritical Theory and Textual Studies
Michael P. Branch suggests in his 2001 essay "Saving all the Pieces" that "a full understanding of the American land and its various literary representations will require that scholars of environmental literature dedicate themselves to the preservation and restoration of the many rare, corrupted, or otherwise 'endangered' texts upon which that full understanding may ultimately depend." This panel will explore the migrations between, energies exchanged, and limitations observed in recent developments by ecocritics, textual editors, and book historians. What might an ecocritical textual criticism (or a textual ecocriticism) look like? Aside from university libraries and private holdings, where else—archives at the national parks, for example—might we seek out "endangered" texts in need of preservation, restoration, and interpretation? Have recent "green" trends in the publishing industry markedly promoted contemporary environmental writing and its ideals in comparison to (or in spite of) the modern practices of eighteenth and nineteenth-century book-making? Or, for that matter, are these heavily-popularized practices actually sustainable? How might ecocritical theory or ecological science contribute to such editorial problems as "authorial autonomy" and "final intention"? How might textual practice aid ecocritics and ecologists in their attempts to preserve literature and land?