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Prismatic Ecology

Ecotheory beyond Green

2013

Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Editor

Prismatic Ecology

Traces the impress and agency of ecologies that cannot be reduced to the bucolic expanses of green readings

Prismatic Ecology moves beyond the accustomed green readings of ecotheory and maps a colorful world of ecological possibility. By way of color, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen guides readers through a reflection of an essentially complex and disordered universe and demonstrates the spectrum as an unfinishable totality, always in excess of what a human perceives.

The chapters find deep reservoirs of semiotic value and biotic interplay across the spectrum of colors, reaching into perceptual zones as seemingly unnatural and alien as x-ray and ultraviolet. Collectively, this book comprises a tour de force that could be the core of an entire seminar on cutting edge environmental theory.

Roy Christopher

Emphasizing sustainability, balance, and the natural, green dominates our thinking about ecology like no other color. What about the catastrophic, the disruptive, the inaccessible, and the excessive? What of the ocean’s turbulence, the fecundity of excrement, the solitude of an iceberg, multihued contaminations? Prismatic Ecology moves beyond the accustomed green readings of ecotheory and maps a colorful world of ecological possibility.

In a series of linked essays that span place, time, and discipline, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen brings together writers who illustrate the vibrant worlds formed by colors. Organized by the structure of a prism, each chapter explores the coming into existence of nonanthropocentric ecologies. “Red” engages sites of animal violence, apocalyptic emergence, and activism; “Maroon” follows the aurora borealis to the far North and beholds in its shimmering alternative modes of world composition; “Chartreuse” is a meditation on postsustainability and possibility within sublime excess; “Grey” is the color of the undead; “Ultraviolet” is a potentially lethal force that opens vistas beyond humanly known nature.

Featuring established and emerging scholars from varying disciplines, this volume presents a collaborative imagining of what a more-than-green ecology offers. While highlighting critical approaches not yet common within ecotheory, the contributions remain diverse and cover a range of topics including materiality, the inhuman, and the agency of objects. By way of color, Cohen guides readers through a reflection of an essentially complex and disordered universe and demonstrates the spectrum as an unfinishable totality, always in excess of what a human perceives.

Contributors: Stacy Alaimo, U of Texas at Arlington; Levi R. Bryant, Collin College; Lowell Duckert, West Virginia U; Graham Harman, American U in Cairo; Bernd Herzogenrath, Goethe U of Frankfurt; Serenella Iovino, U of Turin, Italy; Eileen A. Joy; Robert McRuer, George Washington U; Tobias Menely, Miami U; Steve Mentz, St. John’s U, New York City; Timothy Morton, Rice U; Vin Nardizzi, U of British Columbia; Serpil Oppermann, Hacettepe U, Ankara; Margaret Ronda, Rutgers U; Will Stockton, Clemson U; Allan Stoekl, Penn State U; Ben Woodard; Julian Yates, U of Delaware.

Prismatic Ecology

Jeffrey Jerome Cohen is professor of English and director of the Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute at George Washington University. He is the author and editor of numerous books, including Medieval Identity Machines; Of Giants: Sex, Monsters, and the Middle Ages; and Monster Theory: Reading Culture, all from Minnesota.

Lawrence Buell recently retired after many years as professor of English at Harvard University. He is the author of The Future of Environmental Criticism: Environmental Crisis and Literary Imagination.

Prismatic Ecology

The chapters find deep reservoirs of semiotic value and biotic interplay across the spectrum of colors, reaching into perceptual zones as seemingly unnatural and alien as x-ray and ultraviolet. Collectively, this book comprises a tour de force that could be the core of an entire seminar on cutting edge environmental theory.

Roy Christopher

Prismatic Ecology

Contents

Foreword
Lawrence Buell
Acknowledgments

Introduction: Ecology’s Rainbow
Jeffrey Jerome Cohen
1. White
Bernd Herzogenrath
2. Red
Tobias Menely and Margaret Ronda
3. Maroon
Lowell Duckert
4. Pink
Robert McRuer
5. Orange
Julian Yates
6. Gold
Graham Harman
7. Chartreuse
Allan Stoekl
8. Greener
Vin Nardizzi
9. Beige
Will Stockton
10. Brown
Steve Mentz
11. Blue
Eileen Joy
12. Violet-Black
Stacy Alaimo
13. Ultraviolet
Ben Woodard
14. Grey
Jeffrey Jerome Cohen
15. Black
Levi R. Bryant
16. X-Ray
Timothy Morton
Onword. After Green Ecologies: Prismatic Visions
Serenella Iovino and Serpil Oppermann

Contributors
Index