11-Rewriting the Unthinkable: (In)Visibility and the Nuclear Sublime in Gerald Vizenor’s Hiroshima Bugi: Atomu 57 (2003) and Lindsey A. Freeman’s This Atom Bomb in Me (2019)

After identifying some of the aesthetic, rhetorical, and ontological pitfalls of the nuclear or atomic sublime (the over-aestheticization of nuclear risks and the resulting absence of any sense of responsibility) this essay undertakes narratological and rhetorical analyses of one novel, Gerald Vizenor’s Hiroshima Bugi: Atomu 57 (2003), and one creative memoir, Lindsey A. Freeman’s This Atom Bomb in Me (2019). As this article shows, the two works offer alternate ways of representing and critiquing the beguiling but dangerous nuclear sublime while shedding light on a wide array of notions that are intimately associated with atomic culture but have yet remained understudied from this perspective, at least in the fields of (American) literary studies, ecocriticism, and the environmental humanities. These include the dichotomies invisibility/visibility (or absence/presence) and whiteness/color, and the related trope of silence. By engaging with non-dominant traditions and cultures (Anishinaabe; Japanese) and elaborating complex metaphors in the case of Vizenor, or in multisensorial experiences which draw on theories from new materialisms in Freeman’s, the two works converge to suggest that experimentation in the contemporary novel and memoir can lead to an ecocritical revision of the dominant and ocularcentric nuclear sublime, and of the risks it aestheticizes and conceals.

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1-La critique saisie par les crises climatique et écologiques : l’écocritique comme remède, comme modèle, comme arme

En repartant des analyses de Jean-Luc Nancy, qui pose la question du geste critique en fonction, d’une part, du rapport que ce geste entretient à la « crise », et d’autre part, des « critères » qui fondent ce geste et en définissent la visée, cet article se propose de voir en quoi les trois grands modèles définis par le philosophe – critique médicale, esthète, politique – permettent d’éclairer le vaste champ des approches dites « écocritiques ». À la faveur de cet examen, il apparaîtra que c’est tant la nécessité que l’impossibilité d’articuler pleinement ces trois modèles qui font la singularité, paradoxale, de l’écocritique.

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2-Faire une littérature environnementale. Le pragmatisme à l’essai.

La relation entre la littérature et l’environnement peut prendre de multiples formes et s’étendre dans de nombreuses directions. Mais avant de se manifester dans des genres littéraires, ou dans des discours et des perspectives critiques, cette relation est construite par des pratiques de lecture, d’écriture, de discussion, ou, dans un cadre institutionnalisé, d’enseignement, de recherche et de recherche-création. Je propose un examen de certaines de ces pratiques, pour ensuite mieux établir des conjugaisons possibles entre des pertinences littéraires et des pertinences environnementales. Une orientation pragmatique, mettant de l’avant la littérature comme ensemble de faires, anime ma réflexion.

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4-Vivid Entanglements: Materializing Climate Crisis in Mainstream Poetry

How does contemporary mainstream Anglophone poetry represent climate crisis? Taking this simple question as starting point to critical exploration, this article contends that mainstream poets, often dismissed as conventionally realist (and, as a result, very seldom taken as objects of ecocritical study) as opposed to the experimental avant-garde, use innovative poetics in order to figure a crisis defeating both imagination and representation, as well as metapoetically interrogate their own modes of representing nature. Through the study of a recent anthology dedicated to the climate crisis, Kate Simpson’s Out of Time, Poetry from the Climate Emergency (2021), we will see how mainstream poets experiment with form and language, focusing attention on the visuality, iconicity, materiality and plasticity of the poem, rather than the “hyperobject” (Morton) they purportedly represent. Troubling mimetic representation in order to open up the poem into a more problematic site of meaning, these poems grope with issues of scale, space and voice, pushing the reader to actively engage with the recalcitrant text and, potentially, experience their entanglement in the world through poetic artifice.

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3-Géopoétique de la catastrophe. The Book of the Dead de Muriel Rukeyser

The Book of the Dead est paru en 1938 dans le recueil U.S.1. La poétesse états-uniennes Muriel Rukeyser a composé cet ensemble de poèmes à la suite d’un séjour à Gauley Bridge, en Virginie-Occidentale (Etats-Unis), où 764 ouvriers venaient de mourir de la silicose en travaillant sur un chantier hydro-électrique. Pour saisir ce que le chantier mortifère a laissé en héritage, elle élabore une poésie moderniste qui emprunte tant aux esthétiques documentaire qu’aux expérimentations objectivistes. Cette article propose d’en faire une lecture géopoétique : The Book of the Dead manifeste une poétique qui, troublée par les perturbations géographiques et géologiques qui sous-tendent la catastrophe sociale, redéfinit cette dernière.

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5-“Infamy in the Air”: Toxic Climate, Racial Atmospherics, and the Politics of Contagion in the Literature of the Nineteenth-Century United States

This essay asks what crisis does to critique, but also how critique can help theorize, and orient ourselves in, crisis, by thinking about breathing and race in the literature of the nineteenth-century United States “in the wake” of the pandemic of COVID-19. Drawing on Christina Sharpe’s In the Wake, as well as on studies of the atmospherics of power in the field of cultural anthropology, health humanities, environmental humanities and literary studies, I seek to elaborate a critical vocabulary for thinking about the specific crisis produced by a contagious disease travelling in the very air we share and breathe and, by extension, for thinking about the power dynamics of the airy yet material atmosphere that surrounds us. Moving from “suspension” to “distribution,” from “breathlessness” and “asphyxiation” to “aspiration” and “conspiration,” I reflect on the politics of contagion, on the risk and the promise of contamination.

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6-A Martial Meteorology: Carceral Ecology in Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing

During a discussion of her novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing, on National Public Radio (NPR), Jesmyn Ward recalls her experience of Hurricane Katrina: “I sat on the porch, barefoot and shaking. The sky turned orange and the wind sounded like fighter jets. So that’s what my mother meant: I understood then how that hurricane, that Camille, had unmade the world, tree by water by house by person.” The “weight of history in the South of slavery and Jim Crow makes it hard to bear up,” she continues. The future is full of worry, “about climate change and more devastating storms like Katrina and Harvey.” In Ward’s depiction of the wind as fighter jets, she imbues the violent elements of the hurricane with a martial quality that demonstrates how weather and, in particular, storms, hold the capacity to unmake the world. Her words reveal the fungible nature of oikos, or home, and a methodological process of undoing—waters that uproot trees that uproot houses that displace persons. And the details of the aftermath left unsaid—the racism laid bare by the storm, those attempts at unmaking, human by human. Yet it is the history of the US South, of slavery and Jim Crow, that Ward uses as the preface to her concern about a future full of storms wrought by climate change. In doing so, she foregrounds the racial dimensions of the Anthropocene by placing the carceral in conversation with the environment. Sing, Unburied, Sing also explores this much over-looked connection. By examining Sing, Unburied, Sing’s spectral twinning of racial and ecological violence, this essay traces what I call carceral ecology. Crafted from Ward’s imagining of a martial meteorology, carceral ecology transforms climatic phenomena like heat, rain, and storms into tools of western power. The novel thus unearths a southern history in which environmental design and manipulation have been used to maintain a carceral state of control. Looking to Sing, Unburied, Sing, allows us to sift through the different evolutions of carceral ecology—from its toxic presence in the communities of the US South, to its early stages on the plantation, and ending, finally, with the worldly arena of the Anthropocene.

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7-Du “Storm Cloud” à Vertigo Sea L’art britannique au prisme de l’“angloseen”

L’intérêt de la contribution des humanités à la politisation de la crise climatique réside dans la façon dont elles ont rendu sensible un continuum entre nature et culture. Elles se sont pour cela appuyées sur certaines disciplines en particulier, dont la littérature et l’histoire, premiers instruments et objets d’une relecture environnementale de la culture. L’histoire de l’art, quant à elle, vient plus récemment de se saisir de cette même urgence : la nécessité d’adopter une approche écocritique. Dans ce contexte, l’art britannique offre un point de vue privilégié sur les origines industrielles du trouble. Les artistes britanniques furent en effet les premiers et les premières à représenter les effets d’un climat changeant, mais aussi à faire l’expérience professionnelle de points de vue modifiés par la pollution, par l’érosion du paysage, et plus généralement par le bouleversement du lien de l’humain à son environnement. Habitants et habitantes d’un Royaume qui s’est déployé sur des échelles variables allant de la nation à l’empire, ils et elles ont inauguré les mises en relation du planétaire et de l’infiniment petit. En avançant la proposition d’un concept intitulé « angloseen » permettant de synthétiser la notion géologique d’anglocène et les nouveaux modes d’attentions qu’elle nécessite, cet article s’applique à identifier les possibilités d’une démarche écocritique dans l’étude de l’art britannique, tout en confirmant la possibilité d’avoir une approche nationale de la question environnementale.

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8-Jonathan Franzen: His Bird Solution

This article examines Jonathan Franzen’s different writings on birds inspired by his intense birding around the world in the past twenty years. The autobiographical approach, close to Derrida’s redefinition of man as a suffering animal and exposition of animal plight, has gradually given way to the ethical fashion of the Great American Novel Freedom (2010) on endangered species and a number of ornithological essays contradicting the Audubon Society’s position on climate change.

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9 – William Golding, Gaia, and the Crisis Ecology of Lord of the Flies

A case study in the aesthetic genealogy of the now widely debated Gaia hypothesis, this article charts out a critical position for the environmental humanities within such a paradigm. Beginning with a historical assessment of William Golding’s major role in the development of a Gaian aesthetics, I then turn to his 1954 novel Lord of the Flies to explore its articulation between literature, ecology, and politics. Revealing the critical potential of Simon’s character, I develop a new way of approaching Golding’s canonical work by emphasizing its evental and experimental nature. Although Simon’s character has been approached as the tragic victim of an irredeemable human nature, I use a Deleuzian approach that grants him an immanent position and offers perspectives for the contemporary critical moment, at a time when critique is attacked on every front.

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10-« Quelque chose qui flotte, qui bouge… qui grouille… ». Some Flows of the Formless in Late Anthropocene Fiction

This essay addresses a diffuse category of matter figuring with increasing urgency in our imaginaries of the sea, its subsurfaces, and landfalls: mobile, shapeless biological and geophysical phenomena that are among the most devastating and unsettling evidence of our ongoing planetary ecological crisis. Drawing on an image of a massive jellyfish bloom in Jean-Marc Ligny’s 2012 post-Anthropocene novel Exodes, I briefly explore the relevance of the subjective experience of abjection to the churning, boundary-crossing structure of the image, before turning to George Bataille’s related concept of the formless (l’informe) and its leveling of anthropomorphism as a defining structure of human and non-human experience. I argue that Ligny’s vision of a clotted, pinkish soup churning at the ocean’s surface signals the tasks of the formless in imagery of the Anthropocene’s decline: the unsparing foreclosure of a naïve anthropomorphism and the basis of a utopian post-anthropology.

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