FORTHCOMING PAPERS

ACADEMIC PUBLICATIONS – Forthcoming Papers

Drafts of all of the papers below have been completed and are awaiting publication.

The Reception of Radical Texts: The Complicated Case of Alice Walker’s “Am I Blue?”

The chapter presents the results of a large online-based survey (N=800) in the United States and is the latest in a series of attempts to tackle a conundrum posed by Alice Walker’s controversial story “Am I Blue?.” The interdisciplinary team of ecocritics and psychologists used quantitative empirical methods to study the narrative impact of “Am I Blue?” on contemporary American readers, seeking to replicate the results of an earlier study, conducted in Poland, while also testing new hypotheses about the cultural situatedness of reception, and about the impact of two text-immanent features. The results of the study are surprising and counterintuitive, a stark reminder of the challenges involved in studying the reception of complex literary texts. While partially confirming the author’s hypotheses about the effects of human-animal comparisons and the depiction of emotional rather than physical violence against animals, the study’s most important takeaway is the insight that culturally radical texts may fail to have the desired effect on readers who do not already share their radical position.

(with W.P. Małecki, Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, Marcus Mayorga, and Paul Slovic. For Empirical Ecocriticism, edited by Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, Alexa Weik  von Mossner, W.P. Małecki, and Frank Hakemulder. Forthcoming from the University of Minnesota Press)

Feeling Wild: The Mediation of Embodied Experience

Ecomedia play an ambiguous role in people’s affective relationships with their environments. They demand and condition attention and are often seen as an obstacle to healthy human-nature relationships because they “exhaust” our attentional resources in ways that affect our perception of our actual surroundings. At the same time, they also mediate such relationships. The chapter explores the psychological mechanisms behind this complex interplay of attention, cognition, embodiment, and emotion, focusing on the example of film. The first part considers the ways in which film production and exhibition take into account the affective and embodied nature of human perception and cognition. The second part uses the example of Jean-Marc Vallée’s biopic Wild (2014) to demonstrate how cinematic techniques enable viewers to viscerally experience a character’s experience of a natural environment.

(for The Routledge Handbook of Ecomedia Studies, edited by Antonio Lopez, Alenda Chang, Kiu-Wai Chu, Stephen Rust, Miriam Tola, and Adrian Ivakhiv. Under contract with Routledge)

A Glacial Pace? Mountain Cinema and the Imagination of Climate Change

Mountains are at once a deeply natural phenomenon—an elevated portion of the Earth’s crust—and the product of human intervention. In this chapter, focus on three documentaries – Franny Armstrong’s The Age of Stupid (2009), Hannes Lang’s Peak (2011), and Jeff Orlowski’s Chasing Ice (2012) – which I argue are paradigmatic in their uses of glaciers to forward a political and ecological argument about anthropogenic climate change. I explore how each of these documentaries invites viewers to engage with the depicted mountain environments and consider the films’ reception to shed light on the relationship between pacing, emotional engagement, and the potential impact on environmental attitudes and behavior. A better understanding of how such effects are achieved is relevant not only for the analysis of global mountain cinema but also for climate change communication.

(for Global Mountain Cinema, edited by Christian Quendler, Kamaal Haque, and Caroline Schaumann. Under contract with Edinburgh University Press)

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