The Bioregional Imagination
Literature, Ecology, and Place

Edited by Tom Lynch, Cheryll Glotfelty, and Karla Armbruster

The first collection of essays in bioregional literary criticism


"This is a terrific book and a landmark contribution to our field. The essays are readable, intelligent, provocative, and grounded in the latest scholarship; they address timely and wide-ranging topics in judicious, illuminating, and sometimes unsettling ways. I predict that this will become an essential reference for both theory and practice."
—John Tallmadge, author of The Cincinnati Arch: Learning from Nature in the City

"This lucid, engaging, and learned collection has its feet on the ground and both a magnifying glass and binoculars in its hands. A terrific and practical resource, full of intriguing ideas, literary examples, and appealing places—this book will win converts to the bioregional way of thinking."
—Sue Ellen Campbell, lead author of The Face of the Earth: Natural Landscapes, Science, and Culture

“The bioregional perspective has been around for over forty years now. It has persistently and quietly examined and analyzed the ways modern people live in their landscapes. Combining ecological and geomorphological science with culture and politics, it lays the groundwork for better ways to be on earth. This welcome anthology of cultural papers brings together a range of well-imagined texts and puts the bioregional project front and center for humanists, educators, and scientists.”
—Gary Snyder, author of The Practice of the Wild

"Whether the essays in this astonishing anthology examine bioregionalism in the city or in postcolonial and international scenarios, in a genre such as science fiction or in social media on the Internet, they bring ways of thinking about the relationship of self, community, and place from the 1970s resolutely into the twenty-first century. One of the most refreshing and stimulating aspects of this essay collection is its inclusion of voices that are critical of or even antagonistic to the idea of bioregionalism as an organizing category of environmentalist thought, so that the book conveys a sense of lively intellectual controversy rather than dogmatic sermons. No one interested in the imagination of place from an environmental perspective will be able to ignore this fascinating and diverse collection."
—Ursula K. Heise, author of Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global

"The Bioregional Imagination makes a valuable contribution to the Venn diagram field of ecocriticism, where literature, science, and yes, activism, can and should coexist."
—Christopher Cokinos, Science Magazine

"[T]he editors [of The Bioregional Imagination] elegantly illustrate the wide variety of practices occurring in communities all over the world that are bioregional in nature, while providing a succinct and lucid history of how the bioregional philosophy and movement has evolved. . . . For anyone working in ecocriticism, environmental writing, or bioregional sustainability, it promises to be of much value, reaching classic status in the bioregional literature canon."
—Corey Lewis,

"This anthology of well-crafted, thoughtful essays is a genuine pleasure to read and may become as much of a treasured and well-thumbed document as The Ecocriticism Reader (1996)."
—Pamela Banting, ISLE

"[T]he strength of this collection comes through the focus on the alliance of 'bioregional literature (and be extension, art) and criticism' in encouraging and creating enriching and beneficial experiences of place. . . . It is a mark of success of The Bioregional Imagination that readers are compelled to reappraise and rethink their relationship with place: to understand that to think and act bioregionally is to do much more than endorse stylised images of regional localities (the 'heritage' versions of local identity and place) and to subscribe obediently to 'green' values."
—Stephen Harris, Australian Journal of Ecocriticism and Cultural Ecology

"This impressive anthology opens readers to new bioregionalist possibilities . . . The anthology’s compelling evidence of contemporary bioregionalism’s sophistication and compatibility with eco-cosmopolitanism will be of great interest not only because of ecocriticism’s popularity as an approach to western American literature but also because of ongoing reconsiderations of the notion of region itself[.]"
—Sarah D. Wald, Western American Literature

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Bioregionalism is an innovative way of thinking about place and planet from an ecological perspective. Although bioregional ideas occur regularly in ecocritical writing, until now no systematic effort has been made to outline the principles of bioregional literary criticism and to use it as a way to read, write, understand, and teach literature.

The twenty-four original essays here are written by an outstanding selection of international scholars. The range of bioregions covered is global and includes such diverse places as British Columbia’s Meldrum Creek and Italy’s Po River Valley, the Arctic and the Outback. There are even forays into cyberspace and outer space. In their comprehensive introduction, the editors map the terrain of the bioregional movement, including its history and potential to inspire and invigorate place-based and environmental literary criticism.

Responding to bioregional tenets, this volume is divided into four sections. The essays in the “Reinhabiting” section narrate experiments in living-in-place and restoring damaged environments. The “Rereading” essays practice bioregional literary criticism, both by examining texts with strong ties to bioregional paradigms and by opening other, less-obvious texts to bioregional analysis. In “Reimagining,” the essays push bioregionalism to evolve—by expanding its corpus of texts, coupling its perspectives with other approaches, or challenging its core constructs. Essays in the “Renewal” section address bioregional pedagogy, beginning with local habitat studies and concluding with musings about the Internet.

In response to the environmental crisis, we must reimagine our relationship to the places we inhabit. This volume shows how literature and literary studies are fundamental tools to such a reimagining.

Page count: 440 pp.
24 maps, 9 figures
Trim size: 6 x 9


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Tom Lynch is an associate professor of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. His book Xerophilia: Ecocritical Explorations in Southwestern Literature won the Western Literature Association’s Thomas J. Lyon Award. Cheryll Glotfelty is a professor of English at the University of Nevada, Reno. She is a cofounder and past president of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE). Karla Armbruster, also an ASLE past president, is a professor of English at Webster University.