Summary of the 15th EASLCE Webinar: Brexit Ecocriticism

Host:
Dr Greg Garrard, University of British Columbia at Okanagan, Canada

Participants:
Nikoleta Zampaki, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece (co-coordinator)
Julia Ditter, Northumbria University, United Kingdom (co-coordinator)
Claudia Miller, University of La Laguna, Spain
Klara Machata, University of Freiburg, Germany
Lena Pfeifer, University of Würzburg, Germany

On 2 May we joined Greg Garrard for a discussion on climate scepticism and his concept of Brexit Ecocriticism. As an introduction, Garrard summarised the key arguments his co-authored collection Climate Change and Scepticism for us. The new approach to ecocriticism Garrard suggests is concerned with the cognitive dissonances between accepted views about environmental attitudes. If we come to see cultural and political polarisation as the central problem in Western society, Garrard argues, the most important task is to challenge our stereotyping of those we disagree with. Such an intentional shift in perspective, he suggests, will open up a forum for respectful debate that has been closed down by polarising echo chambers, filter bubbles, and partial news outlets. As difficult as this may be when we find that we encounter perspectives that we perceive as irreconcilable with our own worldviews, it is necessary to try and see the world from the perspective of oppositional political cultures and identities to counter-act those currents of polarisation that threaten to tear our societies apart by hindering respectful debate across the divides.

After engaging the reading, Garrard invited us to think about the implications of these ideas on our own cultures and those that we study in our projects. The topics discussed included:

  • The connection between resurgent nationalisms and landscape imaginaries, including the specific situation in Germany and Greece
  • The importance of interdisciplinary research for ecocritics
  • The different values that cultures attribute to the environment and how these can be understood through national cultural and natural histories
  • Pedagogical strategies and rhetoric positions for engaging with climate sceptics empathetically, and how to make sure that our debates can engender political action
  • The heterogeneity of ecocritical research
  • Ethnocentric readings of the environment, and the predominance of Anglo- and Eurocentric discourses
  • The role of the literary scholar and public engagement

Further reading:
Garrard, Greg. "Introduction." Climate Change and Scepticism: A Transnational Ecocritical Analysis." Bloomsbury Academic, 2019, https://www.bloomsburycollections.com/book/climate-change-scepticism-a-transnational-ecocritical-analysis
Garrard, Greg. "Brexit Ecocriticism." Green Letters, forthcoming.