Back on the Farm: The Trade-offs in Ecocritical Lives

Kristin Van Tassel, Aubrey Streit Krug


In this reflective dialogue, the authors explore how the decisions they are making about where and how to live, teach, and write are reflected in the concerns of the field of ecocriticism, as well as in the agricultural fields of their rural home places. The apparent tension between lived ecocritical practice and productive ecocritical scholarship suggests that individuals must make a difficult trade-off, in which they give up one aspect of ecocriticism in order to gain the other. But the authors argue that by understanding individual trade-offs in more nuanced ways—as investments of energy within complex ecological and social relationships—it is possible to reflect on the assumptions that frame our choices and to envision new choices. Ecocriticism could offer a method for optimizing the systems people use to produce and share ideas. For example, ecocritical scholarship could take new forms, of which the authors’ conversation is one example. Since ecocriticism must strive for diversity as well as inclusivity in order to be relevant, the authors find that marginal voices will continue to matter to the task of imagining alternative methods for engaging in ecocritical theory and lived practice.

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@Journal of Ecocriticism. ISSN 1916-1549