Revaluing the literary naturalist: John Burroughs's emotive environmental aesthetics
This dissertation widens the circle of environmental aesthetics and ecocriticism by considering the role of the emotive in “appreciation.” I demonstrate that emotion is a central feature in the literary naturalism of John Burroughs (1837–1921). Burroughs's model for environmental aesthetics combines narrative knowledge, sensory immersion, and emotional responses. Furthermore, I argue that Burroughs's “sentimental” emotions perform crucial roles in politics and therefore have serious implications for environmental consciousness. The rhetorical strategies inherent in Burroughs's paradigm for environmental aesthetics is essential to contemporary efficacious environmental discourse. This dissertation reclaims the importance of emotional affiliation with creatures, particularly birds, and their habitats. Furthermore, Burroughs's literary naturalism demonstrates profound means of personal identification with the natural world and an ethic of the familiar. Correspondences from fans and ornithologists provide testimony regarding Burroughs's impact upon readers. Most significantly, Burroughs's writings are infused with emotional and ethical components which may influence the ways human beings treat and protect ecosystems which support and sustain diverse forms of life. In addition, I investigate Burroughs's role in environmental legislation for the protection of birds; Burroughs had an influence upon the creation of Weeks-McLean Law (1913), the first migratory bird protection law in the United States, and also the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (1918). Burroughs's environmental aesthetics were essential in helping to cultivate concern for birds during the most crucial moments in bird protection history. Burroughs's environmental aesthetics remain viable in the twenty-first century. ^
Philosophy|Literature, American|Environmental Sciences
Stephen Mark Mercier,
"Revaluing the literary naturalist: John Burroughs's emotive environmental aesthetics"
Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access).