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Romantic sustainability: endurance and the natural world, 1780-1830

Romantic sustainability: endurance and the natural world, 1780-1830

Robertson, Ben P. (Ben Preston), editor

This book is an international collection of ecocritical essays that examine sustainability in relation to Romantic-era Britain. It examines Romantic works while interrogating issues of race, gender, religion, and identity, beginning with inspiration and creativity and ending with considerations about extinction and apocalypse. Romantic Sustainability is a collection of sixteen essays that examine the British Romantic era in ecocritical terms. Written by scholars from five continents, this international collection addresses the works of traditional Romantic writers such as John Keats, Percy Shelley, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, and Samuel Coleridge but also delves into ecocritical topics related to authors added to the canon more recently, such as Elizabeth Inchbald and John Clare. The essays examine geological formations, clouds, and landscapes as well as the posthuman and the monstrous. The essays are grouped into rough categories that start with inspiration and the imagination before moving to the varied types of consumption associated with human interaction with the natural world. Subsequent essays in the volume focus on environmental destruction, monstrous creations, and apocalypse. The common theme is sustainability, as each contributor examines Romantic ideas that intersect with ecocriticism and relates literary works to questions about race, gender, religion, and identity

eBook, Electronic resource, Book. English. Electronic books.
Published Lanham: Lexington Books, 2017
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Statement of responsibility: edited by Ben P. Robertson
ISBN: 1498518915, 9781498518918
Physical Description: 304 pages : illustrations (black and white)
Series: Ecocritical theory and practice
Subject: English; Romanticism Great Britain.; English literature 19th century History and criticism.; Nature in literature.; United Kingdom, Great Britain; Literary studies: c 1800 to c 1900; Ecocriticism Great Britain.; Literature.; Literature: history & criticism; Ireland; Natural history in literature.
Reproduction: Electronic reproduction. Askews and Holts. Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Series Title: Ecocritical theory and practice.
Other formats: Also available in printed form ISBN 9781498518925


  1. List of Illustrations
  2. Abbreviations
  3. Introduction
  4. Part I: Inspiration and the Imagination
  5. Coleridge’s “Deep Romantic Chasm”: Kubla Khan, the Valley of Rocks, and the Geomorphological Imagination
  6. Adrian J. Wallbank
  7. Strict Machine: The DILLIAM Eco-Loop
  8. Michael Angelo Tata
  9. Romantic Clouds: Climate, Affect, Hyperobjects
  10. Seth T. Reno
  11. “In Some Untrodden Region of My Mind”: Mental Landscapes in Keats’s Poetry Huey-fen Fay Yao
  12. Part II: Diets and Consumption
  13. Sublime Diets: Percy Shelley’s Radical Consumption
  14. Madison Percy Jones
  15. The Bloodless Church: Dualist Asceticism and Romantic Vegetarianism
  16. Emily Paterson-Morgan
  17. The Horror of Starvation: Sustainability in Allan Cunningham’s and John Francis Campbell’s Supernatural Tales
  18. Fernando Gabriel Pagnoni Berns
  19. Part III: Alienation and Environmental Degradation
  20. First Child in the Woods: “Nature-Deficit Disorder” and the Future of Romantic Childhood
  21. William Stroup
  22. “The Temple of Folly”: Transatlantic “Nature,” Nabobs, and Environmental Degradation in The Woman of Colour
  23. Denys Van Renen
  24. A Pauper’s Sustenance: Malthusianism and John Clare’s “The Lament of Swordy Well&#148
  25. Kultej Dhariwal
  26. Part IV: Beasts and Monsters
  27. Masculinity, Monstrosity, and Sustainability in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
  28. Avishek Parui
  29. The Monsters of Zocotora: Negotiating a Sustainable Identity through the Environment in Elizabeth Inchbald’s Nature and Art
  30. Ben P. Robertson
  31. Wollstonecraft—Unnatural Woman: Between the Nature of the Feminine and a Gendered Nature
  32. Molly Hall
  33. Part V: Extinction and Apocalypse
  34. Shelley and the Limits of Sustainability
  35. Adam R. Rosenthal
  36. Apocalypse Not Quite: Romanticism and the Post-Human World
  37. Olivia Murphy
  38. Questioning Agency: Dehumanizing Sustainability in Mary Shelley’s The Last Man
  39. Lauren Cameron
  40. About the Contributors
  41. Index

Author note

Ben P. Robertson

is professor of English at Troy University.


Robertson offers a diverse collection of applied ecocritical essays, written by an international group of contributors from five continents, that focus on both traditional and less-known Romantic texts. One of the primary strengths of ecocriticism is its adaptability to a wide variety of purposes and strategies, and these essays forge innovative links between environmental sustainability and considerations such as race, gender, religion, and identity, and also 19th-century developments in science and technology. Robertson, who also edited

The Travel Writings of John Moore

(4v., 2014), organizes the collection around broad themes that range from the environment as imaginative inspiration to nightmares of extinction and apocalypse. Notable contributions include Molly Hall’s ecofeminist reading of Mary Wollstonecraft’s

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

and Denys Van Renen’s analysis of the intersection of race and the environment in the anonymously written

The Woman of Colour

. Marked by theoretical sophistication and including meticulous scholarly apparatus, this accessible, groundbreaking collection should strongly influence the next generation of Romantic scholarship. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.