Conserving Words
How American Nature Writers Shaped the Environmental Movement

Daniel J. Philippon

The first study to link America's nature writing tradition to the development of its environmental organizations


"Conserving Words richly evokes the larger social context of American nature writing in the era between Roosevelt and Abbey. Daniel Philippon's skill in interweaving the literature with the friendships, letters, official reports, and public debates that informed it makes this book both illuminating and delightful."
—John Elder, author of Reading the Mountains of Home

"Philippon does an extraordinarily thorough and lucid job of telling the life stories of these five writers, focusing on their involvement in the environmental movement. . . . In seeking to discern the political and social impact of environmental writing, Conserving Words makes an important contribution to one of the central issues in contemporary ecocriticism."
—Scott Slovic, University of Nevada, Reno

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Conserving Words looks at five authors of seminal works of nature writing who also founded or revitalized important environmental organizations: Theodore Roosevelt and the Boone and Crockett Club, Mabel Osgood Wright and the National Audubon Society, John Muir and the Sierra Club, Aldo Leopold and the Wilderness Society, and Edward Abbey and Earth First! These writers used powerfully evocative and galvanizing metaphors for nature, metaphors that Daniel J. Philippon calls “conserving” words: frontier (Roosevelt), garden (Wright), park (Muir), wilderness (Leopold), and utopia (Abbey). Integrating literature, history, biography, and philosophy, this ambitious study explores how “conserving” words enabled narratives to convey environmental values as they explained how human beings should interact with the nonhuman world.
Page count: 391 pp.
Trim size: 6.125 x 9.25


List price: $30.95

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Daniel J. Philippon is an associate professor of rhetoric at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, where he is also director of the Program in Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Ethics. He is editor of a critical edition of Mabel Osgood Wright's The Friendship of Nature and coeditor of the anthology The Height of Our Mountains.