"This brief monograph packs a provocative interpretation of a body of important works frequently read in isolation, and in so doing, opens the whole of American nature writing to fruitful reconsideration."
Myers first discusses the paradox of Thomas Jefferson’s agrarian vision, by which ideas espoused in his Notes on the State of Virginia can support either environmental destruction or conservation, a democratic or a racist society. Next, by looking race-critically at Thoreau’s Walden and The Maine Woods, then ecocritically at Charles Chesnutt’s The Conjure Woman and Zitkala-Sa’s Old Indian Legends and American Indian Stories, Myers traces the development of a new resistance to racial and ecological hegemony. He concludes by discussing how the antiracist, egalitarian ecocentricity in these earlier writers can be seen in contemporary writer Eddy L. Harris’s Mississippi Solo. Myers’s discussion encompasses other authors as well, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Muir, and Willa Cather.
By looking at works by Native Americans, African Americans, European Americans, and others, and by considering forms of literature beyond the traditional nature essay, Myers expands our conceptions of environmental writing and environmental justice.
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