The rhetoric of advocacy in American nature writing

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Geoffrey Paul Carpenter (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Hephzibah Roskelly

Abstract: In this study, I examine how nature writers invest the non-human world with language in an effort to empower nature, and how, in the process. they subvert the prevailing views of humanism and scientific rationalism. I am most interested in the role of those I call "nature advocates," a group of writers who purport to represent nature's interests within the human political sphere. Some of the authors under consideration here include James Fenimore Cooper, Henry David Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, John Muir, Edward Abbey, Ursula Le Guin, Rachel Carson, and Annie Dillard, just to name a few. Most of this study is devoted towards examining how language affects the dynamics of power within the relationship between the advocate, nature, and the public. The advocate plays an intermediary role between nature (which is non-linguistic) and humanity (which defines itself as quintessential linguistic), interpreting a variety of non-linguistic "meanings" in natural phenomenon which he or she then translates into language, often with didactic overtones. This intuitive and experiential perspective of the material world is markedly different than the "objective" approach privileged within the dominant culture. The advocate rejects the strict dichotomy between objective and subjective ways of knowing, suggesting instead that knowledge is transactional.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1996
Nature in literature
Nature (Aesthetics) $x Political aspects

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