Economy and Environment in American Literature, 1580-1864
"Sweet offers a wide-ranging examination of the agricultural work of North American men and women as seen through the lens of literature. . . . Sweet's greatest achievement is his ability to integrate hundreds of years of discourse about the North American continent into a cohesive narrative of evolving perceptions of environment and humankind's role in shaping it."—American Literature
"Thoughtful, critically intelligent, and well-informed."—Lawrence Buell, Harvard University
In classical terms the georgic celebrates the working landscape, cultivated to become fruitful and prosperous, in contrast to the idealized or fanciful landscapes of the pastoral. Arguing that economic considerations must become central to any understanding of the human community's engagement with the natural environment, Timothy Sweet identifies a distinct literary mode he calls the American georgic.
Offering a fresh approach to ecocritical and environmentally-oriented literary studies, Sweet traces the history of the American georgic from its origins in late sixteenth-century English literature promoting the colonization of the Americas through the mid-nineteenth century, ending with George Perkins Marsh's Man and Nature (1864), the foundational text in the conservationist movement.
Timothy Sweet is Professor of English at West Virginia University. He is the author also of Traces of War: Poetry, Photography, and the Crisis of the Union.