“Teaching ‘The Big Two-Hearted River’: A Cognitive Approach to Leading Students into the Swamp”

Colin Irvine


The focus of this essay concerns the overlapping, potentially illuminating and educational contexts specific to Hemingway’s “The Big Two-Hearted River.” These contexts fall broadly into four categories: 1) those related to the intra- and extra-diegetic levels of the narrative and, specifically, the story of the protagonist’s fishing expedition; 2) those tied to the narrative’s creation, including those specific to Hemingway’s life and work; 3) those more elusive and yet no less important theoretical ones, including formalism, poststructuralism, ecocriticism, and, more recently, those that fall under the umbrella of cognitive-ecological understandings of literature; and, finally, 4) those contexts specific to contemporary environmental literature courses.


Narrative; Interdisciplinary; Darwinian; cognitive

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@Journal of Ecocriticism. ISSN 1916-1549