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Cultivation and Catastrophe

The Lyric Ecology of Modern Black Literature

Sonya Posmentier

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A transformative literary history of black environmental writing.

At the intersection of social and environmental history there has emerged a rich body of Black literary response to natural and agricultural experiences, whether the legacy of enforced agricultural labor or the destruction and displacement brought about by a hurricane. In Cultivation and Catastrophe, Sonya Posmentier uncovers a vivid diasporic tradition of Black environmental writing that responds to the aftermath of plantation slavery, urbanization, and free and forced migrations. While humanist discourses of African American…

A transformative literary history of black environmental writing.

At the intersection of social and environmental history there has emerged a rich body of Black literary response to natural and agricultural experiences, whether the legacy of enforced agricultural labor or the destruction and displacement brought about by a hurricane. In Cultivation and Catastrophe, Sonya Posmentier uncovers a vivid diasporic tradition of Black environmental writing that responds to the aftermath of plantation slavery, urbanization, and free and forced migrations. While humanist discourses of African American and postcolonial studies often sustain a line between nature and culture, this book instead emphasizes the relationship between them, offering an innovative environmental history of modern black literature.

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Cultivation and Catastrophe

Sonya Posmentier

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Reviews

Reviews

The black optimism that animates Posmentier's writing is also a prominent feature of the poems, songs, and works of visual art that she takes up as her primary objects of concern. Yet there is also, alongside this optimism, the ever-present specter of the end of the world—one that operates, always, right alongside the countless new worlds that black art necessarily engenders—which demands our attention.

Sonya Posmentier's Cultivation and Catastrophe feels urgent and contemporary even as its turn to black lyric asks readers to pause, sound out, and reflect on a long history of poetic engagement with ecological catastrophe, forced migration, and the afterlife of the plantation.

There is much to admire in this wide-ranging and carefully researched study. In particular, its close attention to poetic form represents a valuable contribution to postcolonial ecocriticism, which has tended to focus more on narrative genres.

Posmentier's monograph is a much-needed contribution to both the new lyric studies and ecopoetics, two fields that, until recently, have focused more often than not on the writings and methods of white European and American poets and critics.

The capaciousness with which Posmentier approaches the lyric is generative, especially in light of environmental criticism's recent wave of poetry scholarship... groundbreaking.

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Book Details

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
PART 1
1. Cultivating the New Negro
2. Cultivating the Nation
3. Cultivating the Caribbean
PART 2
4. Continuing Catastrophe
Collecting Catastrophe
5. Collecting Culture
6. Unnatural

Acknowledgments
Introduction
PART 1
1. Cultivating the New Negro
2. Cultivating the Nation
3. Cultivating the Caribbean
PART 2
4. Continuing Catastrophe
Collecting Catastrophe
5. Collecting Culture
6. Unnatural Catastrophe
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Resources

Additional Resources