Ecocritical Forum and Ecocritical Comparative Literature

In the spring of 2007, ”Ecocritical Forum” was initiated by a number of researchers from the subjects Comparative Literature, English and German as a joint push for ecocritical literary studies at Mälardalen University. The group currently includes seven researchers with doctoral degrees. Ever since it was inaugurated, the forum has arranged a lively seminar series including both presentations given by the members and lectures given by invited guests.

Ecocriticism is an interdisciplinary field of research specialised in literary analysis, especially of fiction, but also other types of texts against the backdrop of debates about sustainable development. As a Comparative Literature field of research, Ecocriticism focuses on the one hand on human interaction with nature and the environment, and on the other on our conceptions of nature. Questions asked by Ecocriticism are, for instance, “How does literature represent nature and the environment?”, “How are problems of ecology represented in literary texts?” or “How do literary texts deal with the conflict between humanity and the environment, culture and nature, in a realistic way?”

The development of Ecocriticism is connected to the increasing awareness over the last few decades of the role of humans in those climate changes and environmental problems that scientific research describes as reality in an ever more unanimous manner. In other words, it is not about representations of nature as such, but about the relationship between the text and nature/the environment and about making visible issues that highlight the importance of literature for a sustainable development of society. The nature-culture conflict has always been a matter of attention and discussion in humanities research. However, in the ecocritical research specialisation these concepts are problematised in partly new ways and on the basis of interdisciplinary perspectives for which recent insights about ecology play an important part.