A wide variety of approaches to space, place, landscape, and nature have been developing in French and Francophone literary studies over the last decade or so, many of them strongly influenced by the “spatial turn.” For example, literary geography draws on landscape studies to examine the representation of a place in a novel or collection of poems (Collot 2014). Geocriticism, on the other hand, focuses on the ways in which space becomes place with respect to specific geographical referents (Westphal 2007). As for geopoetics, it aims to redefine the role of personal experience of the real world (White 2014) and outline a methodology for analyzing the relationship between humans and places in literary texts (Bouvet 2011). Following an “ecological turn” more than the “spatial turn,” French and Francophone forms of ecocriticism and ecopoetics align themselves with the critical concept of place and home (eco-). Some of these approaches work with a more traditional notion of the natural world (Schoentjes 2015) and environmental literature (Suberchicot 2012), while others are developing a broader interest in post-apocalyptic literature and urban and industrial environments (Posthumus 2014).
To clear up the misconception that French and Francophone literary studies remain rooted in traditional analysis of nature as setting or background, we will carefully compare and contrast four of these literary approaches – geocriticism, geopoetics, ecocriticism and ecopoetics.1 Each co-author will present the field in which she specializes alongside a second field that fits best with her area of specialization – geopoetics and geocriticism in the case of Rachel Bouvet, ecocriticism and ecopoetics in the case of Stephanie Posthumus. This organization will allow us to discuss the differences between geo- (earth) and eco- (home) approaches. But this alignment does not preclude other possibilities. For example, we could have emphasized the similarities between geopoetics and ecopoetics that both pay close attention to the role of language and literary techniques, in contrast to geocriticism and ecocriticism that pay more attention to sociohistorical and cultural contexts. Or we could have aligned geopoetics and ecocriticism in terms of their call for a less harmful, more mindful way of dwelling in the world, in contrast to geocriticism’s outright rejection of ecological politics and ecopoetics’ implied ecological principles.
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Cet article est la version préliminaire de l’article publié dans Hubert Zapf, dir., Handbooks of Ecocriticism and Cultural Ecology, Berlin, Walter de Gruyter, 2016, p. 385-412.