This article argues that the systemic focus of empirical studies of literature offers an approach consonant with the goals and methods of ecocriticism, which foregrounds interconnectedness and varieties of systemic analyses. In generating empirically viable comments about how representations (or non-representations) of nature function systemically, contextual analyses of ecophobia as an often obsolete adaptive survival strategy prove more useful than more myopic analyses that fail to see biophilia as part of a spectrum condition. The article highlights the shortcomings of Edward O. Wilson's pronouncements on literature, which hinder the very mediation between the sciences and the humanities that he promotes. If we are to take seriously the activist goals of ecocriticism, then we need to be earnest about the idea that, as opposing points on a continuum, ecophobia and biophilia can be measured and contextualized through comparative cultural analyses.
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Simon C. Estok; Tracking Ecophobia: The Utility of Empirical and Systems Studies for Ecocriticism. Comparative Literature 1 March 2015; 67 (1): 29–36. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00104124-2861991
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