Feeling nature, reconsidered
ecocriticism, affect, and the case of H is for hawk
This essay considers how affect theory might inform ecocriticism. While ecocriticism has historically rejected anthropocentrism, recent nature writing such as Helen Macdonald's bestselling H Is for Hawk embraces human experience, including the subtleties of human emotion. Drawing on work by William Reddy and other theorists of affect, Ottum argues that affect is not only anthropocentric: in H Is for Hawk affect amplifies the text's "ecocentric" elements. By describing her own process of feeling, reflecting, and learning to describe her emotions, Macdonald models for readers how to "do something" with the affective intensities provoked by nonhuman nature. Specifically, the text demonstrates how affect can be channeled toward a stance of humility and respect for nature's agency.
Ottum, L. (2019)., Feeling nature, reconsidered: ecocriticism, affect, and the case of H is for hawk, in S. Ahern (ed.), Affect theory and literary critical practice, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 235-249.
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