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Sustaining the West

Cultural Responses to Canadian Environments

Edited by Liza Piper & Lisa Szabo-Jones
Subjects Environmental Studies, Literary Criticism, Art, Cultural Studies, Canadian Literature
Series Environmental Humanities Hide Details
Paperback : 9781554589234, 365 pages, March 2015
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554589258, 365 pages, March 2015
Ebook (PDF) : 9781554589241, 365 pages, April 2015

Table of contents

Table of Contents for Sustaining the West: Cultural Responses to Canadian Environments, edited by Liza Piper and Lisa Szabo-Jones
List of illustrations
Introduction: What if the Problem is People? | Liza Piper
Part 1: Acting on Behalf Of
Chapter 1: Grass Futures: Possibilities for a Re-engagement with Prairie | Trevor Herriot
Chapter 2: Wastewest: A State of Mind | Warren Cariou
Chapter 3: Sustaining Collaboration: The Woodhaven Eco Art Project | Nancy Holmes
Chapter 4: A Natural History and Dioramic Performance: Restoring Camosun Bog in Vancouver, British Columbia | Lisa Szabo-Jones and David Brownstein
Chapter 5: A Subtle Activism of the Heart | Beth Carruthers
Chapter 6: Sublime Animal | Maria Whiteman
Chapter 7: The Becoming-Animal of Being Caribou: Art, Ethics, Politics | Dianne Chisholm
Interlude: Creating Metaphors for Change | Lyndal Osborne
Part 2: Constructing Knowledge
Chapter 8: Poetry, Science, and Knowledge of Place: A Dispatch from the Coast | Nicholas Bradley
Chapter 9: Deception in High Places: The Making and Unmaking of Mounts Brown and Hooker | Zac Robinson and Stephen Slemon
Chapter 10: Escarpments, Agriculture, and the Historical Experience of Certainty in Manitoba and Ontario | Shannon Stunden Bower and Sean Gouglas
Chapter 11: Whatever Else Climate Change Is Freedom: Frontier Mythologies, the Carbon Imaginary, and British Columbia Coastal Forestry Novels | Richard Pickard
Chapter 12: Endangered Species, Endangered Spaces: Exploring the Grasslands of Trevor Herriot's Grass, Sky, Song and the Wetlands of Terry Tempest Williams's Refuge | Angela Waldie
Chapter 13: What Should We Sacrifice for Bitumen? Literature Interrupts Oil Capital's Utopian Imaginings | Jon Gordon
Interlude: Symphony for a Head of Wheat Burning in the Dark | Harold Rhenisch
Part 3: Maternal Expressions
Chapter 14: Propositions from Under Mill Creek Bridge: A Practice of Reading | Christine Stewart
Chapter 15: Understory Enduring the Sixth Mass Extinction, ca 2009-11 | Rita Wong
Chapter 16: Seeding Coordinates, Planting Memories: Here, There, & Elsewhere in W.H. New's Underwood Log | Travis V. Mason
Chapter 17: Re-Envisioning epic in Jon Whyte's Rocky Mountain Poem The fells of brightness | Harry Vandervlist
Chapter 18: Ware's Waldo: Hydroelectric Development and the Creation of the Other in British Columbia | Daniel Sims
Afterword: Humming Along With the Bees: A Few Words on Cross-Pollination | Pamela Banting


Western Canada’s natural environment faces intensifying threats from industrialization in agriculture and resource development, social and cultural complicity in these destructive practices, and most recently the negative effects of global climate change. The complex nature of the problems being addressed calls for productive interdisciplinary solutions. In this book, arts and humanities scholars and literary and visual artists tackle these pressing environmental issues in provocative and transformative ways. Their commitment to environmental causes emerges through the fields of environmental history, environmental and ecocriticism, ecofeminism, ecoart, ecopoetry, and environmental journalism. This indispensable and timely resource constitutes a sustained cross-pollinating conversation across the environmental humanities about forms of representation and activism that enable ecological knowledge and ethical action on behalf of Western Canadian environments, yet have global reach. Among the developments in the contributors’ construction of environmental knowledge are a focus on the power of sentiment in linking people to the fate of nature, and the need to decolonize social and environmental relations and assumptions in the West.


The editors and writers of these thoughtful, challenging essays—diverse examples of the best work in the environmental humanities—take seriously the cultural assumptions that create and perpetuate contemporary environmental crises. With a scope that considers the potential of the poetic to alter the West's exploitative relationship with nature alongside cases of deteriorating ecosystems, which illustrate the need for a new social contract with the land, these writers call for radical change.

- Deanna Reder, Department of First Nations Studies and Department of English, Simon Fraser University; co-editor, with Linda M. Morra, of Troubling Tricksters: Revisioning Critical Conversations, 2015 February