Conference presentation

Ecopoetic Encounters: Amnesia and Nostalgia in Alexis Wright's Environmental Fiction

ContributorsBarras, Arnaud
Presented atEASA: Encountering Australia: Transculturation Conversations, Prato (Italy), 24-26 June 2014
Publication date2014

The insular nature of Australia means that historically Europeans first encountered the continent from the sea. In Carpentaria (2006) and The Swan Book (2013), Alexis Wright reimagines European encounters with Australia from an Aboriginal and environmental perspective. I will argue that through the Stranger-figures of Elias Smith, who is left amnesic after surviving a shipwreck during a cyclone, and Bella Donna, who seeks refuge in the nostalgia of swan stories after the disappearance of her native lands due to climate change, Wright shows that encountering Australia is twofold, both narrative and experiential, poetic and ecological. Indeed Elias's encounter is extremely violent and results in a loss of personal (hi)story, whereas Bella Donna's encounter is characterized by slow violence and results in a profusion of stories. Through this clever play of contrast, Wright draws the reader's attention to the interweaving of language and experience. She shows that encountering Australia is an ecopoetic process that takes place in a storied world. In this world, journeys of migration, transformations of the Environment and stories of travelling are irremediably entangled. In Carpentaria and The Swan Book, Stranger-figures allow European readers to rediscover the Australian continent and, in the process, their ecopoetic self.

  • Transcultural
  • Postcolonial
  • Environmental
  • Fiction
  • Aboriginal
  • Literature
  • Alexis
  • Wright
  • Swan
  • Book
  • Australia
  • Ecology
  • Environmentalism
  • Stranger
  • Ecopoetics
  • Ecocriticism
  • Poetics
  • Language
  • Experience
  • Migration
  • Encounter
Citation (ISO format)
BARRAS, Arnaud. Ecopoetic Encounters: Amnesia and Nostalgia in Alexis Wright’s Environmental Fiction. In: EASA: Encountering Australia: Transculturation Conversations. Prato (Italy). 2014.
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Secondary files (1)
  • PID : unige:40626

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