Beyond Romantic Ecocriticism: Toward Urbanatural RoostingReview 19 (2011)
One of S.T. Coleridge's many passions was "the Science of Words, their use and abuse and the incalculable advantages attached to the habit of using them appropriately..." (Aids to Reflection 7). This passion drove Coleridge to coin over 600 words, including "psychosomatic," "romanticize," "supersensuous," and memorable phrases like "the willing suspension of disbelief." (In fact, the new electronic edition of the Oxford English Dictionary lists Coleridge as #59 in the "Top 1000 sources for quotations," only a few slots behind the Bible). He also coined the word "desynonymize" in the belief that clarity in language went hand in hand with clarity in thinking. The importance of words, and coining new ones where necessary, is precisely where Ashton Nichols begins his intriguing book. Nichols invents a word -- "Urbanature" -- in order forge a new understanding of our relationship to the natural world. This term (which, as Nichols helpfully points out, rhymes with "furniture") "suggests that nature and urban life are not as distinct as human beings have long supposed ...all human and nonhuman lives, as well as all animate and inanimate objects around those lives, are linked in a complex web of interdependent interrelatedness" (xiii). Likewise, Nichols refashions the term "roosting" to describe "a new way of living more self-consciously on the earth" by creating more temporary, environmentally sensitive homes in the surrounding environment (3). By engaging these terms, and examining their eighteenth and nineteenth century antecedents, Nichols hopes to renew our views of nature at a time of increasing peril for our urban, suburban, rural, and wild environments.
Publication DateJune 27, 2011
Citation InformationSamantha Harvey. "Beyond Romantic Ecocriticism: Toward Urbanatural Roosting" Review 19 (2011)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/samantha_harvey/33/