Synopses & Reviews
“One of this collection’s strongest attributes is that it goes beyond analyses of political rhetoric. The essays treat politics within a broader cultural (and natural) environment that is itself constantly changing, and they discuss ways our language is adapting to fit this unprecedented role in a variety of specific situations. The essays are challenging, insightful, and interesting.”—Curt Meine, author of Aldo Leopold: His Life and Work
is about an idea—the environment—and how we talk about it. Is the environment something simply “out there” in the world to be found? Or is it, as this book suggests, a concept and a set of cultural values constructed by our use of language? That language, in its many forms, comes under scrutiny here, as distinguished authors writing from a variety of perspectives consider how our idea and our discussion of the environment evolve together, and how this process results in action—or inaction.
Listen to politicians, social scientists, naturalists, and economists talk about the environment, and a problem becomes clear: dramatic differences on environmental issues are embedded in dramatically different discourses. This book explores these differences and shows how an understanding of rhetoric might lead to their resolution. The authors examine specific environmental debates—over the Great Lakes and Yellowstone, a toxic waste dump in North Carolina and an episode in Red Lodge, Montana. They look at how genres such as nature writing and specific works such as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring have influenced environmental discourse. And they investigate the impact of cultural traditions, from the landscape painting of the Hudson River School to the rhetoric of the John Birch Society, on our discussions and positions on the environment.
Most of the scholars gathered here are also hikers, canoeists, climbers, or bird watchers, and their work reflects a deep, personal interest in the natural world in connection with the human community. Concerned throughout to make the methods of rhetorical analysis perfectly clear, they offer readers a rare chance to see what, precisely, we are talking about when we talk about the environment.
About the Author
Carl G. Herndl is associate professor of English and Stuart C. Brown is assistant professor of English, both at New Mexico State University.