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The roots of ‘ecocriticism’: Exploring the impact of Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’

By Anna Sikora:
Anna Sikora is a tutor, part-time teacher, and final year PhD student in the Discipline of English, National University of Galway, Ireland. She is examining the works of John Wyndham, author of over 60 short stories and 12 novels, including the famous The Day of The Triffids (1951) and The Midwich Cuckoos (1957). Anna is interested to see when and why science fiction authors began to show an awareness of environmental issues, and how this was demonstrated in their work. She is adopting some of the concepts of environmental criticism (ecocriticism) to ask how environmental concerns are articulated in fiction, and whether literature can, and should, influence our daily environmental choices or the ways in which we interact with the environment.

Ecocriticism (environmental criticism) is not exactly new to the humanities, as it has been around for nearly a quarter of a century, but it is the latest to join the set of lenses – such as Marxism, Postcolonial theory and Feminism – through which students are invited to read literature. Do these theoretical frameworks enhance our understanding of literature and the creative process behind writing? Perhaps yes; perhaps no.

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