This study investigates the figure of haunting in the New Nature Writing. It begins with a historical survey of nature writing and traces how it came to represent an ideal of ‘natural’ space as empty of human history and social conflict. Building on a theoretical framework which combines insights from ecocriticism and spatial theory, the author explores the spatial dimensions of haunting and ‘hauntology’ and shows how 21st-century writers draw on a Gothic repertoire of seemingly supernatural occurrences and spectral imagery to portray ‘natural’ space as disturbed, uncanny and socially contested. Iain Sinclair and Robert Macfarlane are revealed to apply psychogeography’s interest in ‘hidden histories’ and haunted places to spaces associated with ‘wilderness’ and ‘the countryside’. Kathleen Jamie’s allusions to the Gothic are put in relation to her feminist re-writing of ‘the outdoors’, and John Burnside’s use of haunting is shown to dismantle fictions of ‘the far north’. This book provides not only a discussion of a wide range of factual and fictional narratives of the present but also an analysis of the intertextual dialogue with the Romantic tradition which enfolds in these texts.
"Re-centers and gives voice to a diversity of women naturalists and writers across time." —Cultivating Place In Writing Wild, Kathryn Aalto celebrates 25 women whose influential writing helps deepen our connection to and understanding of the natural world. These inspiring wordsmiths are scholars, spiritual seekers, conservationists, scientists, novelists, and explorers. They defy easy categorization, yet they all share a bold authenticity that makes their work both distinct and universal. Part travel essay, literary biography, and cultural history, Writing Wild ventures into the landscapes and lives of extraordinary writers and encourages a new generation of women to pick up their pens, head outdoors, and start writing wild. Featured writers include Dorothy Wordsworth, Susan Fenimore Cooper, Gene Stratton-Porter, Mary Austin, and Vita Sackville-West. Nan Shepherd, Rachel Carson, Mary Oliver, Carolyn Merchant, and Annie Dillard. Gretel Ehrlich, Leslie Marmon Silko, Diane Ackerman, Robin Wall Kimmerer, and Lauret Savoy. Rebecca Solnit, Kathleen Jamie, Carolyn Finney, Helen Macdonald, and Saci Lloyd. Andrea Wulf, Camille T. Dungy, Elena Passarello, Amy Liptrot, and Elizabeth Rush.
After reading J. A. Baker’s fifty-year-old British nature classic The Peregrine, John Lane found himself an ocean away, stalking resident red-shouldered hawks in his neighborhood in Spartanburg, South Carolina. What he observed was very different from what Baker deduced from a decade of chronicling the lives of those brooding migratory raptors. Baker imagined a species on the brink of extinction because of the use of agricultural chemicals on European farms. A half century later in America, Lane found the red-shouldered hawks to be a stable Anthropocene species adapted to life along the waterways of a suburban nation. Lane watched the hawks for a full year and along the way made a pledge to himself: Anytime he heard or saw the noisy, nonmigratory hawks in his neighborhood, he would drop whatever he was doing and follow them on foot, on bike, or in his truck. The almanac that results from this discipline considers many questions any practiced amateur naturalist would ask, such as where and when will the hawks nest, what do they eat, what are their greatest threats, and what exactly are they communicating through those constant multinoted cries? Lane’s year following the hawks also led him to try to answer what would become the most complex question of all: why his heart, like Baker’s, goes out so fully to wild things.