Hubert Zapf

American Studies
Augsburg University
Member of the Advisory Board

In extension of my recent work on literature, cultural ecology, and sustainability, I am currently co-authoring a chapter with Timo Müller (Konstanz) on ‘Ecology in American Literature’ for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Environmental Science. In this research survey, we are examining the ways in which American literature has been shaped by an ecological deep structure long before the emergence of modern ecocriticism. Due to their aesthetic mode of embodied representation and imaginative transformation of historically changing culturenature relations, literary texts exhibit an intrinsic potential of ecocultural knowledge. This applies not only to explicitly environmental texts such as American nature writing or the rich contemporary eco-literature of the Anthropocene, but also to classical examples like Melville’s Moby-Dick or to key African American narratives such as Toni Morrison’s Beloved, which provide complex self-reflexive models of human-environment relations in post-traumatic sociohistorical conditions.