Conversations in the wildwoods: Narrators, readers and the rise of the ecological self

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

New nature writing has been gaining popularity in the English-speaking world. Using participant observation of a book group, this paper finds that reading such ecological writing can facilitate reader shifts in perceptions and the valuing of non-human organisms and the more-than-human world. Shifts are enabled when readers experience reading as an imagined conversation with knowledgeable, friendly author/narrators. Readers construct representations of author/narrators using textual and extra-textual information. Evaluative, narrative and aesthetic feelings, alongside inferences about author/narrators’ abilities to provide accurate natural history information, evoke intellectual pleasure in readers which can transform difficult emotions. By modelling a self that values nature and brings together science and poetic language, author/narrators of ecological writing offer an alternative vision of the self that challenges problematic dualisms in society. Such a sense of self was adopted and developed upon within book group discussions, highlighting the importance of aesthetic, emotional and relational contexts for using ecological literature in environmental education.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Education Research
Early online date28 Dec 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Dec 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • selfhood
  • reading
  • book clubs
  • psychonarratology
  • non-fiction
  • literature


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