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date: 05 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The marriage-driven and reconciliatory structures of Shakespeare’s comic form resemble traditional ecological understandings of the interconnections in nature. Over the past forty years, literary ecocriticism has explored parallels between the way literary texts are formed and ecological structures. One seminal claim that helped launch the ecocritical movement in the 1970s was biologist Joseph Meeker’s assertion that comedy is the genre of ecological harmony. This chapter tests Meeker’s adaptive theory by looking at As You Like It, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, and Two Gentlemen of Verona. Putting Meeker’s sentimental notions of natural harmony in touch with post-equilibrium ecological thinking and twenty-first-century ecocritical work that recognizes catastrophe as a ‘natural’ structure produces a more dynamic notion of comedy. By juxtaposing green pastoral spaces with their blue oceanic opposites, Shakespeare’s comedies offer global and expansive notions of natural order and disorder, ones better suited to an age of ecological disaster.

Keywords: ecocriticsm, ocean studies, blue humanities, pastoral, shipwreck, catastrophe, Anthropocene

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