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Critique Humanities Natural Sciences Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

Strange Natures: Futurity, Empathy, and the Queer Ecological Imagination

By Nicole Seymour, 2013

Strange Natures reveals a tradition of queer environmentalism in contemporary literature and film from the Americas. In the process, it challenges the historical disconnect between queer theory and ecocriticism–a disconnect that, as Nicole Seymour shows, emerges from those disciplines’ divergent attitudes toward “nature.” Nicole Seymour investigates the ways in which contemporary queer fictions offer insight on environmental issues through their performance of a specifically queer understanding of nature, the nonhuman, and environmental degradation. By drawing upon queer theory and ecocriticism, Seymour examines how contemporary queer fictions extend their critique of “natural” categories of gender and sexuality to the nonhuman natural world, thus constructing a queer environmentalism. Seymour’s thoughtful analyses of works such as Leslie Feinberg’s Stone Butch Blues, Todd Haynes’s Safe, and Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain illustrate how homophobia, classism, racism, sexism, and xenophobia inform dominant views of the environment and help to justify its exploitation. Calling for a queer environmental ethics, she delineates the discourses that have worked to prevent such an ethics and argues for a concept of queerness that is attuned to environmentalism’s urgent futurity, and an environmentalism that is attuned to queer sensibilities.

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