Chlorine, Neurasthenia, Bombturbation: A Mattertextual Critique of English War Poems
Two modes of depiction characterize the understanding of nature in English War Poetry. The first one, in synch with the most warfare narratives, involves the portrayal of a dark, gloomy atmosphere with devastated landscapes, filled with fumes, heaps of metal and concrete, and the remnants of a dying nature in the background. The second one depicts a rural ‘home,’ far away from the battle zone, enclosed by a pristine and idealized environment, giving the warmth of the ‘motherland,’ which is equally embracing, protective, and fertile as ‘mother nature.’ Although they were not purposeless at the time, these two contrastive approaches have come to formulate an area of contest within contemporary literary scholarship as well as in the current forms of the posthumanities and environmental humanities because they create a further distance between nature and culture, widening the long-established gap between the two. By problematizing this stark contrast between nature and culture, body and mind, and matter and text, this article presents a critique of early ecocritical readings of English war poems, and as an alternative, it offers a mattertextual analysis of Wilfred Owen’s “Spring Offensive” (1918), which might help us better understand the long-term anthropogenic impacts related to the toxic intrusions of the war into the earth and its human and nonhuman components.
Ağın, B. (2020). Animated film as an eloquent body: Seth Boyden’s An Object at Rest as mattertext. Celal Bayar University Journal of Social Sciences 18.1, 382-384. doi: 10.18026/cbayarsos.705831
Ağın Dönmez, B. (2015). Posthuman ecologies in twenty-first century short animations. PhD dissertation, Hacettepe University.
Alaimo, S. (2014). Oceanic origins, plastic activism, and new materialism at sea. In S. Iovino & S. Oppermann (Eds.), Material ecocriticism (pp. 186-203). Bloomington: Indiana University.
Albrecht, G. et al. (2007). Solastalgia: the distress caused by environmental change. Australasian Psychiatry 15, 95-98.
Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Durham: Duke.
Birkerts, S. (1996). Only god can make a tree: The joys and sorrows of ecocriticism. The Boston Book Review 3.1. Accessed on 27 Apr. 2020 at https://www.asle.org/wp-content/uploads/ASLE_Primer_Birkerts.pdf
Breen, J. (2014). Wilfred Owen (Routledge revivals): Selected poetry and prose. New York: Routledge.
Szczygielska, M. & CielemĞ™cka, O. (2019). Introduction to special section: Plantarium: Human–vegetal ecologies. Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience, 5.2, 1-12.
Eliot, T. S. (1922 ). The Waste Land; A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts. V. Eliot (Ed.). New York: Harcourt.
Estok, S. (2009). Theorizing in a space of ambivalent openness: Ecocriticism and ecophobia. ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, 16.2, 203-225.
Fussell, P. (2000). The great war and modern memory. New York: Oxford University.
Glotfelty, C. (1996). Introduction. In C. Glotfelty & H. Fromm (Eds.), The ecocriticism reader: Landmarks in literary ecology (pp. xv-xxxviii). Athens: University of Georgia.
Haraway, D. (1991). Simians, cyborgs, and women: The reinvention of nature. New York: Routledge.
Haraway, D. (2003). The companion species manifesto: dogs, people, and significant otherness. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm.
Harris, E. (2013). 'The earth-haunted mind': The search for reconnection with nature, place and the environment in the poetry of Edward Thomas, T. S. Eliot, Edith Sitwell and Charlotte Mew. PhD dissertation, Manchester Metropolitan University.
Hupy, J. P. (2008). The environmental footprint of war. Environment and History 14, 405–421. doi: 10.3197/096734008X333581
Iovino, S. & Oppermann, S. (2014). Material ecocriticism. Bloomington: Indiana University.
Johns-Putra, A. (2010). Ecocriticism, genre, and climate change: Reading the utopian vision of Kim Stanley Robinson’s science in the capital trilogy. English Studies, 91.7, 744-760.
Latimer, J. & Miele, M. (2013). Naturecultures? Science, affect and the non-human. Theory, Culture & Society 30.7-8, 5-31.
Latour, B. (1993). We have never been modern. Boston: Harvard University.
Leopold, A. (1949). A sand county almanac and sketches here and there. New York: Oxford University.
Maggioni, E. (2016). “Earth! Have they gone into you?” An ecocritical reading of the relationship between man, nature and war in Isaac Rosenberg’s poems. L’analisi linguistica e letteraria xxiv, 53-62.
Malone, N. & Ovenden, K. (2017). Natureculture. In A. Fuentes (Ed.), The international encyclopedia of primatology. John Wiley & Sons. Accessed on 24 Apr. 2020 at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/9781119179313.wbprim0135
Owen, W. (1918). Spring offensive. Accessed on 23 Apr. 2020 at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/57370/spring-offensive-56d23ad1f2c15
Owen, W. (1918). Dulce et decorum est. Accessed on 23 Apr. 2020 at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46560/dulce-et-decorum-est
Price, M. (2015). The bodymind problem and the possibilities of pain. Hypatia 30.1, 268-284.
Reis, H. (2011). “I pull the parapet’s poppy / To stick behind my ear”: Nature in the poetry of world war I. In S. Oppermann, U. Özdağ, N. Özkan & S. Slovic (Eds.), The future of ecocriticism: New horizons (pp. 324-336). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars.
Rosenberg, I. (1916). Break of day in the trenches. Accessed on 24 Apr. 2020 at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/13535/break-of-day-in-the-trenches
Rosenberg, I. (1917). Dead man’s dump. Accessed on 24 Apr. 2020 at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47411/dead-mans-dump
Sandilands, C. (1999). The good-natured feminist: Ecofeminism and the quest for democracy. Minneapolis: Minnesota University.
Weisman, A. (2012). The world without us. Virgin digital.
Yılmaz Karahan, Z. G. (2020). Blazing atomic bombs in the poetry of Edith Sitwell and Elizabeth Jennings. Journal of humanities and tourism research 10, 305-312.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2021 Başak Ağın
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.