The endorsements are finalized for Zoopoetics: Animals and the Making of Poetry, as is the cover. It will be out in December of 2013.
“Zoopoetics is an original, lucid examination of how animals shape the human art of poetry. Drawing upon the foundational work of such scholars as Paul Shepard, Donna Haraway, and David Abram, Aaron M. Moe uses the Derridian concept of ‘zoopoetics’ to deepen our understanding of language and our understanding of what animals mean to humans. Without other species, we might be essentially voiceless. This is a significant study of ‘animality,’ one of the central paradigms in the field of ecocriticism.”
—Scott Slovic, editor of ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment
“Moe’s Zoopoetics lucidly demonstrates that poetry is a shared space in which human and other animals may ‘stretch toward’ each other, a space in which many of our best poets in English attend to nonhuman poiesis. This is a timely and important contribution to ecocriticism and animal studies.”
—Helena Feder, author of Ecocriticism and the Idea of Culture
Many American writers of the 19th century blurred the boundaries demarcating wilderness and civilization, nature and culture, animals and humans, as well as built and natural environments. At times, though, some of the same writers reinforced such boundaries. This course foregrounds the environments, both natural and built, of several longer works from the 19th century (and a few shorter ones too). As we explore concepts such as romanticism, naturalism, and realism, we also explore the tropes that racialize, spiritualize, genderize, personify, or animalize the environment. Doing so exposes some of the underlying assumptions of the time period. However, we will also examine how the writers undermine the assumptions, play with the tropes, and open up alternative perspectives. Throughout the course, we grapple with how writers reflect and yet shape human responses to the environment, both natural and built. The ways in which we think about the environment today have roots that pass through the 19th century. Those roots contain both the poison and the cure for today’s environmental challenges.
In my writing and research course, I established the figure of the weaver (drawing on Sipiora and Baumlin’s Rhetoric and Kairos). The weaver helps direct the writer’s imagination to envision the many places of an essay that open up space for a new idea, a new source, an echo of the thesis, another source, another new thread. It’s all about timing.
Next week, we will revisit the figure of the “weaver,” and I am using the following images to exemplify how a little theory goes a long way. A photographer can spend a decade grappling and playing with the rule-of-thirds; the guideline helps the photographer make decisions. Likewise, a writer can spend a decade grappling with how to best be a weaver on every scale of an essay. Both guidelines move beyond prescriptions and empower the writer/photographer to make wise decisions.
As these photos all play with the rule-of-thirds, they expose some nuances of what is otherwise a very basic theory. On one level, writer-as-weaver is basic too. However, like the rule-of-thirds, it can revolutionize the way an emergent (or accomplished) essayist approaches his or her craft.