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Cultivation and Catastrophe

The Lyric Ecology of Modern Black Literature

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.

About the Author

Sonya Posmentier (NEW YORK, NY) is an associate professor of English at New York University.

Reviewss

"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."

- Syndicate

"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."

- Britt Rusert, University of Massachusetts Amherst - Syndicate

"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."

- Review of English Studies

"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."

- Contemporary Literature

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

- Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment

Endorsementss

"Must-read scholarship for the fields of black poetics and ecopoetics. Treating African American and Afro-Caribbean cultures as distinct, yet profoundly interrelated, Posmentier leaves readers with an expansive sense of the ways that various writers and lyricists have analyzed and mounted critiques of the history of violent oppression of black people."

- Evie Shockley, Rutgers University, author of Renegade Poetics: Black Aesthetics and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry

"This brilliant book has the potential to invigorate the nascent field of environmental, ecological approaches to African American literature. Posmentier gives us a groundbreaking new grammar for understanding black diasporic aesthetics as a wondrous, constant interplay between the ideology of enclosure and the ecology of expansion."

- Margo Natalie Crawford, Cornell University, coeditor of New Thoughts on the Black Arts Movement
Johns Hopkins University Press
The <I>Callaloo</I> African Diaspora Series
2017
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