"Reading the Roots presents a wide and representative selection of writings from the period that begins with Renaissance explorers and ends with New England transcendentalists. For a variety of reasons, this period has suffered critical and pedagogical neglect. Michael Branch's scholarship is not only sound and reliable, but timely and provocative as well."
—John Tallmadge, author of Meeting the Tree of Life: A Teacher’s Path
"This is a major work of ecocriticism that will open up a new area of scholarship and catch the interest of many scholars and general readers beyond ecocritics. I found Reading the Roots to be full of surprises, works that I was unaware of and that I found quite intriguing. Even the well-known figures, like Emerson, are represented by lesser-known works that will seem like discoveries to readers."
"The nicely crafted Reading the Roots . . . brings together an impressive selection of authors and gives an excellent overview of the geographies and genres covered by these writers . . . While reading these pieces, one cannot help but feel a profound sadness for the loss of the diverse creatures that once shared this fabulous land. Perhaps, however, as Branch hopes, encountering them in the pages of this anthology will encourage us to preserve those that remain."
"What a marvelous collection! Every selection is intriguing: surprising, entertaining, evocative, and informative. And Mike Branch's introductions are just right. This is a major resource for students, teachers, anyone interested in how Americans have perceived our lands. Perhaps even better, it's also lots of fun to read."
—SueEllen Campbell, Colorado State University
"Reading the Roots is a welcome anthology."
"Michael Branch has given us a new 'literary historical trailhead' with which to begin exploring American nature writing. . . . Reading the Roots is a compelling and transformative contribution to the genre known as nature writing."
The selections in Reading the Roots describe a diversity of landscapes, wildlife, and natural phenomena, and their authors represent many different nationalities, cultural affiliations, religious views, and ideological perspectives. The writings gathered here also range widely in terms of subject, rhetorical form, and disciplinary approach--from promotional tracts and European narratives of contact with Native Americans to examples of scientific theology and romantic nature writing.
The volume also includes a critical introduction discussing the cultural, scientific, and literary value of early American nature writing; headnotes that contextualize all authors and selections; and a substantial bibliography of primary and secondary sources in the field. Reading the Roots at last makes early American landscapes--and a range of literary responses to them--accessible to scholars, students, and general readers.
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