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Ecocriticism in British Romantic Studies



This article considers the theory and practice of ecological literary criticism, or “ecocriticism,” in British Romantic studies. Also known as “Romantic ecology” or “green Romanticism,” Romantic ecocriticism examines the ways in which Romantic writers and thinkers participated in and responded to the history of ecological science, environmental ethics, and environmentalist activism. The article begins by offering a general introduction to ecocriticism and its Romantic contexts. Subsequently, in a series of subtitled sections, it investigates the following topics: contemporary scientific discourses on nature; Romantic aesthetics and preservationist practices; Romantic naturalism and “deep ecology”; ecofeminist philosophy and Romantic gender politics; Romanticism and animal welfare; and the vexed relationship between Romantic “ecopoetics” and the politics of nature. The article concludes by examining some of the latest innovations in Romantic ecocriticism, including questions and problems associated with urban ecology, the politics of colonialism, and the concept of nature itself.