environmental writing

A Rewilding of American Letters with Dr. Laura Smith

Dr. Laura Smith is a geographer at the University of Exeter, U.K. She works across cultural geography and the environmental humanities, with research interests in ecological restoration and rewilding, the history and conservation of U.S. public lands, national parks, American literature, and environmental protest and activism.

Exeter University Profile and Twitter

Her first book, Ecological Restoration and the U.S. Nature and Environmental Writing Tradition: A Rewilding of American Letters, was published earlier this year, on the American environmental writers Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and Edward Abbey, looking at how the connections between writers and places, and the texts produced, have helped shape ecological restoration programs. Palgrave Macmillan Amazon.com Barnes & Noble

Dr Smith takes us on an exploration of the entanglements between these famed writers and the places they focused they’re writing on presented in her own storying—restorying—restoring framework on early American environmental literature. From her unique perspective, Dr. Smith lays out an intricate human geography that she says lead to and continues to impart “literary interventions in restoration politics.” She shows us how these early writings have been used and recycled far and wide by conservationists, activities, policymakers to defend U.S. public lands and ideas about wilderness, restoration and rewilding. The takeaway is that we should pay attention to environmental writing, because it has a powerful role in guiding references for restoration, practice on the ground or contributing to policy debates. These are the legends baked into our origin stories, ethical intentions, organizational missions and politics.

This discussion is an opportunity to crack those letters open again to ponder where we came from collectively and reinvigorate our imaginations about what exactly we are conserving and with whom we are comrades in restoration.

Walden Woods Project: https://www.walden.org

Restore Hetch Hetchy: https://hetchhetchy.org

Aldo Leopold Foundation: https://www.aldoleopold.org

Friends of the Everglades: https://www.everglades.org

Glen Canyon Institute: https://www.glencanyon.org

Penguin Green Ideas book series: https://www.penguin.co.uk/series/grnidea/green-ideas.html

Eden Project: https://www.edenproject.com

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