Writing Nature in Cold War American Literature

Sarah Daw

Research output: Book/ReportAuthored book


Writing Nature is the first full-length ecocritical study of Cold War American literature. The book analyses the function and representation of Nature in a wide range of Cold War texts, and reveals the prevalence of portrayals of Nature as an infinite, interdependent ecological system in American literature written between 1945 and 1971. It also highlights the Cold War’s often overlooked role in environmental history, and argues for the repositioning of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) within what is shown to be a developing trend of ecological presentations of Nature in literature written after 1945. Ecocritical analysis is combined with historicist research to expose the unacknowledged role of a globally diverse range of non-Western and non-Anglocentric philosophies in shaping Cold War writers’ ecological presentations of Nature, including Sufism, Taoism and Zen Buddhism. The book contains chapters on J. D. Salinger, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, Paul Bowles and Mary McCarthy. It also introduces the regional writer Peggy Pond Church, exploring the synergies between the depictions of Nature in her writings and in those of her neighbour and correspondent, the atomic scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer. The place and function of Nature in each writer’s work is assessed in relation to the most recent developments in the field of ecocriticism, and each of the book’s six author case studies is investigated through a combination of textual analysis and detailed archival and historicist research.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Number of pages240
ISBN (Print)9781474430029
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2018

Publication series

NameModern American Literature and the New Twentieth Century
PublisherEdinburgh University Press


  • Cold War, Ecocriticism, American Literature,


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