It is well established that literary work can promote insights that result in future change, whether on a personal or an institutional level. As Umberto Eco (1989) notes, the act of reading does not stop with the artist but continues into the work of communities. The papers delivered in this panel consider the regenerative role of literature within culture, arguing that the special properties of literature can convey an important sense of nature (Bateson 1973, Zapf 2008). These concepts are discussed in relation to writing about Australian flora and fauna. Using an ecocritical focus based on ideas about the relationship between literature and the environment the paper considers Australian works and the way in which literature enlivens this complex intersection between humans, animals and the environment. This engagement is investigated through three modes: the philosophical, the literary, and the practical. The novels discussed include Alexis Wright’s Carpentaria, Richard Flanagan’s Wanting, and Sonya Hartnett’s Forest, as well as a range of fictional and non-fictional works that describe the Blue Mountains region in New South Wales. The paper closes with a discussion of the role of story-telling as a way of introducing the public to specific environmental locations and issues.
Balance-Unbalance 2013 International Conference, Noosa Biosphere: Future Nature, Future Culture[s], Sunshine Coast, Australia 31 May - 2 June 2013
Proceedings of the 2013 Balance-Unbalanced International Conference / Susan Davis (ed): pp.29-35