Reference : US Literature and the Toxic Sublime: Technology in the Pastoral Garden
Scientific congresses and symposiums : Unpublished conference/Abstract
Arts & humanities : Multidisciplinary, general & others
Arts & humanities : Philosophy & ethics
Arts & humanities : Literature
US Literature and the Toxic Sublime: Technology in the Pastoral Garden
Lombard, David mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > > > Form. doct. lang., lettres & trad. (paysage)]
8th Biennial Conference of the EASLCE - The Garden: Ecological Paradigms of Space, History, and Community
du 26 septembre 2018 au 29 septembre 2018
the European Association for the Study of Literature, Culture and Environment (EASLCE)
[en] sublime ; garden ; ecopoetics
[en] As Aldo Leopold writes, the modern man is a “trophy-hunter”, a “motorized ant who swarms the continents before learning to see his own back yard, who consumes but never creates outdoor satisfactions”, and ultimately “dilutes wilderness and artificializes its trophies in the fond belief that he is rendering a public service” (Leopold, 1949). One of the main issues raised in Leopold’s book A Sand County Almanac is that our perception has been altered by modern technologies such as mechanization, which has deprived the wilderness of its “wildness”, its spatial and ecological meaning. To refocus his/her perception, the viewer must first “learn[ ] to see his own back yard”, understand the ecological complexity of his garden, before hastening to visit remote and over-touristic places. For example, the viewer in national parks tends to consume “sublime landscape[s]” as “series of picturesque scenes” or “object[s] of artistic consumption” and thus devoid of any spatial or ecological meaning (Byerly, 1996). In this presentation, I will analyze representations of the pastoral garden and other natural landscapes in US (non-)fiction—from Henry David Thoreau to Rachel Carson, Edward Abbey, Don DeLillo and Susanne Antonetta—using a redefinition of the “toxic sublime” as a trope. I will also build on this notion (which Jennifer Peeples describes as “the tensions that arise from recognizing the toxicity of a place, object or situation, while simultaneously appreciating its mystery, magnificence and ability to inspire awe” [Peeples, 2011]) to critically interrogate “intrusions” of technological changes in the pastoral landscape and to determine its dangers and causes, whether they are apparent or metaphorical, technological (mechanization, digitalization), toxic ([nuclear] waste, pesticides, and other chemicals), or ideological (pastoral idealization, capitalism, consumerism). Finally, such analysis will allow me to argue that the garden may involve an ecological aesthetics which avoids the trap of “pastoral idealization” (i.e. the representation of the realm of nature as pristine, separate from humans) while creating sustainable senses of self and place.
Centre Interdisciplinaire de Poétique Appliquée (CIPA)
Researchers ; Professionals ; Students

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