Portuguese Literature and the Environment (forthcoming with Lexington Books in 2019)
Co-edited with Victor K. Mendes
This co-edited book aims to explore the relationship between Portuguese literature and the environment. From the link between nature and poetry in the Medieval “cantigas,” through the bucolic verse of the Renaissance, all the way to the Romantic and post-Romantic nostalgia for a pristine natural or rural landscape under threat in the wake of industrialization, Portuguese literature has frequently reflected on the connection between humans and nature. More recently, neo-realism has returned to natural landscapes as the backdrop for social struggle, while the postcolonial turn in contemporary literature has highlighted the contrast between the environment of the former colonies and that of Portugal.
But nature has neither served merely as a setting for literary endeavors, nor as a simple cultural marker, separating colonizers and colonized. Portuguese writers have engaged directly with the environment in a myriad different ways and have incorporated nature in their texts not only to prompt social, political or philosophical reflections on human society, but also as a way to learn from the specific mode of being of our “others.” What can the natural environment, animals and plants, teach us? How can we represent nature aesthetically? And what does a nature-inflected writing look like?
Brazilian Ecocriticism: Nature and Nation in the Tropics
The goal of the book is to highlight the centrality of the natural world in Brazilian letters from the arrival of the first Europeans, who marveled at the abundance of fauna and flora in the region, through the independence period, when the lavishness of Brazilian nature was used as an argument to bolster nationalism, to today, when environmental issues take center-stage in many Brazilian cultural productions. The book will both explore the chronological development of reflections on the environment in Brazil and highlight core themes that run through the portrayal of nature, including the Paradisiac aspects of the area’s landscapes, the variety of animals and plants in the region and the contrast between lush rainforests and the drought-ridden northeast of the country.
The Mind of Plants
Co-edited with Monica Gagliano and John Ryan
This volume aims to bring innovative plant research from the life sciences, social sciences and humanities to a broad audience both inside and outside academia. The volume is comprised of short essays by a variety of authors—writers, artists, anthropologists, sociologists, biologists, literary and film scholars, and so on—who drafted their texts around a plant of their choice. Essay are organized alphabetically by plant, evoking old herbaria, all the while moving away from their focus on taxonomy. The purpose is to pay tribute to this tradition but subvert its reductionist approach to plant life by highlighting plants’ role as historical, cultural, social and linguistic agents.