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For All Waters

Finding Ourselves in Early Modern Wetscapes

2017
Author:

Lowell Duckert

For All Waters

The Shakespearean era’s wet writers guide our eco-way today

Lowell Duckert shows that when playwrights and travel writers physically interacted with rivers, glaciers, monsoons, and swamps, they composed “hydrographies,” or bodily and textual assemblages of human and nonhuman things that dissolved notions of human autonomy and its singular narrativity. Duckert concludes by investigating waterscapes in peril today and outlining what we can learn from early moderns’ eco-ontological lessons.

As the ‘hydrological turn’ of literary and cultural studies mixes with traditional green environmentalism and less familiar materialist discourses, early modern studies is entering new waters. With special attention to non-oceanic spaces and non-canonical texts, Lowell Duckert's brilliant and imaginative study makes the case for engaged historicist ecocriticism. In our Anthropocene age of ecological anxieties and catastrophes, Duckert contributes a vision of elemental co-composing that the critical conversation deeply needs.

Steve Mentz, author of Shipwreck Modernity

Recent years have witnessed a surge in early modern ecostudies, many devoted to Shakespearean drama. Yet in this burgeoning discipline, travel writing appears moored in historicization, inorganic subjects are far less prevalent than organic ones, and freshwater sites are hardly visited. For All Waters explores these uncharted wetscapes.

Lowell Duckert shows that when playwrights and travel writers such as Sir Walter Raleigh physically interacted with rivers, glaciers, monsoons, and swamps, they composed “hydrographies,” or bodily and textual assemblages of human and nonhuman things that dissolved notions of human autonomy and its singular narrativity. With a playful, punning touch woven deftly into its theoretical rigor, For All Waters disputes fantasies of ecological solitude that would keep our selves high and dry and that would try to sustain a political ecology excluding water and the poor. The lives of both humans and waterscapes can be improved simultaneously through direct engagement with wetness.

For All Waters concludes by investigating waterscapes in peril today—West Virginia’s chemical rivers and Iceland’s vanishing glaciers—and outlining what we can learn from early moderns’ eco-ontological lessons. By taking their soggy and storied matters to heart, and arriving at a greater realization of our shared wetness, we can conceive new directions to take within the hydropolitical crises afflicting us today.

For All Waters

Lowell Duckert is assistant professor of English at West Virginia University. He is coeditor of Elemental Ecocriticism: Thinking with Earth, Air, Water, and Fire.

For All Waters

As the ‘hydrological turn’ of literary and cultural studies mixes with traditional green environmentalism and less familiar materialist discourses, early modern studies is entering new waters. With special attention to non-oceanic spaces and non-canonical texts, Lowell Duckert's brilliant and imaginative study makes the case for engaged historicist ecocriticism. In our Anthropocene age of ecological anxieties and catastrophes, Duckert contributes a vision of elemental co-composing that the critical conversation deeply needs.

Steve Mentz, author of Shipwreck Modernity

For All Waters

Contents
Preface: Shivering, Wet
Introduction: Enter, Wet
1. Becoming Wa/l/ter
2. Going Glacial
3. Making (It) Rain
4. Mucking Up
Conclusion: Exit, Wet
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index