A new 288-page anthology of climate-themed and environmental literature is set for publication on June 15, but already the textbook is finding interest in a worldwide community of writers, readers and movie directors. It’s perfect for the new trend in academia of bringing climate themes into university classrooms where literature and film are taught. Titled ”Currents of the Universal Being:’ The Literature of Energy,” the teaching guide has been edited by three university professors, Scott Slovic, James E. Bishop, and Kyhl Lyndgaard.
Interestingly, Bishop andLyndgaard were earlier students of Professor Slovic. It all began during a 2006 graduate student seminar at the University of Nevada, Reno, according to Slovic. The seminar was called "The Literature of Energy."
"I hope the book will help to encourage students and other readers to think of energy less as an abstract topic that talking heads discuss on the nightly news and more as a phenomenon that permeates our real, everyday lives — and as something fundamentally connected to other important things happening on the planet, like climate change," Slovic told TeleRead in a recent email.
According to Slovic, who teaches at the University of Idaho, the anthology textbook emerged from two core beliefs: (1) that energy is one of the world’s crucial environmental and social issues and (2) that literature — and other cultural media — are vital means of exploring the meaning of the phenomenon of energy in today’s world of climate change issues.
"The goal of this new book is to help students and other readers make connections that might not always occur to them — connections between energy and their own lives and other phenomena like climate change," he said.
So the book’s chapters give readers a sampling of some of the best environmental writing from the past to the present, from poems to short stories to essays and even interviews with poets.
In one segment, the American poet Gary Snyder is interviewed by one of the editors of the book, KyhlLyndgaard, and it’s a great read.
There are also pieces by Vachel Lindsay ("A Rhyme About An Electrical Advertising Sign") and DavidGessner ("Energy). Jerry Morton contributes a piece titled "Now the Ice." Don’t miss Marybeth Hollman’s piece titled "What Happens When the Polar Bears Leave?"
There’s more, lots more, and this anthology looks set to become a staple in literature classrooms around the country as word gets out about the contents. It’s a smorgasbord of great environmental writing, and students will find this a perfect fit for classroom discussions and blog reports.
Very often public discussions of energy-related issues become gridlocked in debates concerning cost, environmental degradation, and the plausibility (or implausibility) of innovative technologies, Slovic told me.
But the topic of energy is much broader and deeper than these debates typically reveal. That’s where this book comes in and strikes a chord.
Presenting a good array of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and interviews — ranging from George Eliot’s 19th-century novel ”Mill on the Floss” to Sandra Steingraber’s recent writing on the subject of ”fracking”— the anthology aims to capture the interest of the general reader as well as to serve as a textbook for college-level writing classes or environmental studies classes that aspire to place the technical subject of energy into a broader cultural context.
Bill McKibben contributes an essay titled "A Moral Atmosphere: Hypocrisy Redefined for the Age of Global Warming." There’s also a short essay titled "To Heal the World, to ‘Repair the World’" and a piece by Wendy Rose titled "Plutonium Vespers."
See also Robinson Jeffries "O Lovely Rock" and Joan Didion’s "At the Dam."
This is one anthology that doesn’t quit. It keeps going and going. See also Pattiann Roger’s "The Power of the Sun" and Rebecca Solnit’s "April Fool’s Day." Audre Lorder contributes "Coal" and Adrian C. Lewis adds "Nevada Red Blues."