Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 February 2020
This collection of essays turns to the nineteenth century in order to weigh the legacy of its holistic conception of systems and to resurrect alternative discourses of openness, permeability, and indeterminate relation. If modern ecocriticism has sometimes been hobbled by a restrictively organic, harmonious conception of how ecologies work, we wager that a return to Victorian interrogations of natural and social collectives can furnish more open, less integrated models for how assemblages operate. The nineteenth century saw both the first acceleration of anthropogenic climate change and the birth of a host of sciences-economic, social, geological, energetic, and (yes) ecological-that now struggle to address the planetary implications of that acceleration. Our growing awareness that we are now living in the long tail of this conjuncture and at the birth of the Anthropocene has prompted a re-evaluation of what we think we know about how nature and society work, and how they might work together.