The Disposition of Nature: Environmental Crisis and World Literature

The Disposition of Nature: Environmental Crisis and World Literature

by Jennifer Wenzel


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How do literature and other cultural forms shape how we imagine the planet, for better or worse? In this rich, original, and long awaited book, Jennifer Wenzel tackles the formal innovations, rhetorical appeals, and sociological imbrications of world literature that might help us confront unevenly distributed environmental crises, including global warming.

The Disposition of Nature argues that assumptions about what nature is are at stake in conflicts over how it is inhabited or used. Both environmental discourse and world literature scholarship tend to confuse parts and wholes. Working with writing and film from Africa, South Asia, and beyond, Wenzel takes a contrapuntal approach to sites and subjects dispersed across space and time. Reading for the planet, Wenzel shows, means reading from near to there: across experiential divides, between specific sites, at more than one scale.

Impressive in its disciplinary breadth, Wenzel’s book fuses insights from political ecology, geography, anthropology, history, and law, while drawing on active debates between postcolonial theory and world literature, as well as scholarship on the Anthropocene and the material turn. In doing so, the book shows the importance of the literary to environmental thought and practice, elaborating how a supple understanding of cultural imagination and narrative logics can foster more robust accounts of global inequality and energize movements for justice and livable futures.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780823286775
Publisher: Fordham University Press
Publication date: 12/03/2019
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 850,636
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Jennifer Wenzel is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature and of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University. She is the author of Bulletproof: Afterlives of Anticolonial Prophecy in South Africa and Beyond (Chicago and KwaZulu-Natal, 2009). With Imre Szeman and Patricia Yaeger, she co- edited Fueling Culture: 101 Words for Energy and Environment (Fordham, 2017).

Table of Contents

Introduction: Reading for the Planet | 1

Part I: Citizens and Consumers

1. Consumption for the Common Good? Commodity
Biography in an Era of Postconsumerism | 49

2. Hijacking the Imagination: How to Tell the Story of the Niger Delta | 81

Part II: Resource Logics and Risk Logics

3. From Waste Lands to Wasted Lives: Enclosure as Aesthetic Regime and Property Regime | 141

4. How Far Is Bhopal? Inconvenient
Forums and Corporate Comparison | 195

Epilogue: Fixing the World | 259

Acknowledgments | 265

Notes | 267

Bibliography | 303

Index | 327

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