Joshua Schuster’s The Ecology of Modernism: American Environments and Avant-Garde Poetics may prove to be one of the definitive works on the relationship between American modernist poetics and the environment. It not only combines the methods of American modernist studies and ecocriticism but also has significant contributions to offer both fields. On the one hand, Schuster’s analysis of how modernist aesthetics represents early to mid-twentieth-century environments offers a unique approach to periodizing American modernism. By assessing the continuities and discontinuities between modernism and modernity, he situates modernism’s methods for framing nonhuman environs (both rural and urban) after nineteenth-century romanticism and organicism, but before the environmentalist activism of the late twentieth century. Industrial waste and polluted environs serve as invigorating sources of aesthetic production for many modernist works—a phenomenon Schuster refers to as “toxic refreshment” (2). The aesthetics of toxic refreshment intentionally departs from romantic and...

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