This annotated bibliography of environmental rhetoric research was produced in 2018 by Kristina Beggen, Colleen Boardman, Kei Lin Chang, Ian Ferris, Emily Grubby, Amanda Keener, Sarah Kelly, Brooke Landberg, Adrian Monty, Tara Pierce, and Ruth Sylvester for the WR 562 Environmental Writing course at Oregon State University.
Albrecht, G. (2010). Solastalgia and the creation of new ways of living. In Pilgrim, S. and Pretty, J.N., (Eds.), Nature and culture: Rebuilding lost connections (pp. 207-234). London, Earthscan.
Glenn Albrecht introduces new terms and constructs for impacts of environmental change in the human experience. He suggests psychoterratic and somaterratic health and illness to describe the mental and physical human impacts of environment. Alcoholism in Native American populations, Albrecht offers as an example, would be a psychoterratic response to community displacement off of tribal lands. Furthering this connection between environmental wellbeing and human wellbeing, Albrecht coins the term solastalgia to describe the distress experienced when a loved place is desolated. The new terms that Albrecht suggests reframes environmental degradation within the reality of human health. With this new rhetoric, environment becomes as strongly linked to health and identity as, perhaps, genetics. Albrecht’s rhetoric takes on new meaning with the onset of global climate change and may provide impetus for actions taken to strengthen endemic environments.
Baake, K. (2017). Remembering the Alamo: Commonplaces in Texas water policy arguments. In Ross, D.G. (Ed). Topic-Driven environmental rhetoric (pp. 125-146). New York: Routledge.
Baake’s partial case study of the rhetorical commonplaces employed by private Texas landowners in public water policy forums expands the arguments he began in an article previously published in the Texas Water Journal. Baake’s analysis of the connection between private land ownership in Texas as a whole and the rhetoric of ownership that drives the water policy fight emphasizes the economic value of farmland according to the broad archetype of white Texan landowning farmers. Baake also discusses some ways in which this archetype has been evoked on a large scale, politically, when white Texan landowning farmers run for office. The case study also describes the commonplace of the monster that white Texan landowning farmers fight against to keep the water that runs through the land they paid for. Sometimes that monster is the government; sometimes it’s drought; sometimes it’s a mythical freeloader who is racialized within the category of lazy indigent to resemble the people who live without access to clean water on the border between Texas and Mexico. The case study format is worth remarking on because the author is a writing teacher who assigns his students a novel about an archetypical white Texan landowning farmer and then reports their reactions to the character and presents this evidence alongside descriptions of real-life “characters” who speak at public water policy forums
Beckwith, E. (2018). Trails and tribulations: A new materialist approach to Green Lakes Trail use. In E. Pflugfelder (Ed.), Assembling Oregon: Material rhetoric in the Pacific northwest (pp. 85-96). Middletown, DE: CreateSpace.
In her book chapter “Trails and Tribulations: A New Materialist Approach to Green Lakes Trail Use”, author Emily Beckwith argues that hikers’ use of trails works to dissolve the fictitious and anthropocentric “nature/culture binary” and “allows us to come to terms with our response-ability to the natural environment” (p. 86). Beckwith relies on a theoretical framework derived from Rivers’ (2015) concept of deep ambivalence, Nicotra’s (2016) assemblage rhetorics, and Lund’s (2013) argument of nature’s rhetorical agency to ground her claims, which are subsequently contextualized through her own case study of walking Oregon’s Green Lakes Trail. Her purpose is to illustrate how “building more relations with … [nature through repeat exposure] enables deviation from the human-directed experience” (p. 93) of the environment, in order to advocate against recent proposed access restrictions for the Green Lakes Trail and other similar areas. Given the theories Beckwith relies upon and the location of her case study, Beckwith intends to persuade her intended audience of environmentally minded rhetoricians and Oregon nature enthusiasts to transcend the false barrier between nature and humans by accurately recognizing the powerful rhetorical agency that natural objects possess.
Bekins, L. K., Cammack, B., & Krug, A. (2013). From concept to action: Do environmental regulations promote sustainability? In P. N. Goggin (Ed.), Environmental rhetoric and ecologies of place (pp. 173-185). New York: Routledge.
Becca Cammack, Alison Krug, and Linn Bekins investigate the degree to which environmental regulations help convey the concept of sustainability into culture and therefore changes in behavior. They focus their study on California’s Construction General Storm Water Permit (CGP), which seeks to limit pollutant production and runoff in loose sediment on and around industrial development sites. By surveying four environmental professionals who have been through the permitting process on development projects and rhetorically analyzing the permit’s accompanying informational materials, the authors conclude that – at least in this localized case – regulations can indeed promote sustainability. This case study is limited by its small sample size (only four participants) and the fact that – as the authors concede – all the participants are already ideologically predisposed to be persuaded in favor of greater sustainability. The findings of this study might be compelling and/or instrumental pieces in more comprehensive analyses that pay closer attention to the dynamics of political and capitalist ideologies in sustainability rhetorics.
Bergman, C. (1996). The curious peach: Nature and the language of desire. In C.G. Herndl & S.C. Brown (Eds.), Green culture: Environmental rhetoric in contemporary America (pp. 281-303). Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
Charles Bergman defines humanity’s relationship to/with nature as always inscribed in and reflected by the current socio-historical construction and experience of desire, paralleling our relationship to our own bodies to that of the body of nature. Bergman develops this parallel by analyzing representations of humanity’s relationship to nature – from prehistoric cave art through pastoral Western literature – showing the ways the sexuality of desire has been sublimated over time and therefore transgressively expressed in the form of exploitation and domination over nature and femininity. His purpose is to reveal the root of contemporary alienation and domination in order to begin rearranging and inventing new relationships to self, desire, body, other, and nature. Bergman employs an exploratory tone, personal narrative, and lyrical language that develops an informal, kindred, collaborative relationship with his audience, inviting the reader to join him in this exploration, and – as Bergman hopes – transformation.
Boyd, D. R. (2015). The optimistic environmentalist: Progressing towards a greener future. Toronto: ECW Press.
Boyd argues in this book that there is indeed not only hope for humanity’s future but that we can achieve it. Boyd worked as an environmental lawyer in his home of Canada for about 20 years before writing this book, which gave him a wealth of examples to show what we can accomplish when we work together. Many examples reside in Chapter 1: Nature’s Comeback Stories, such as the charismatic Sea Otter. Essentially, the first thing the author does is provide his readers with feel-good stories to boost spirits. Canadian laws saved the adorable Sea Otter populations from dying out entirely, all species of whales began to recover once we initiated a global moratorium on whaling, and remember the hole in the ozone layer? We fixed that, too! These upbeat reminders of the struggles that required people to come together across countries, oceans, and cultures, to find shared values and work together certainly contains inspiring rhetoric. While many will argue the virtues of individual choices Boyd mentions in the book, such as becoming a vegetarian, no one can argue the impacts of societal reform (one piece of legislature at a time) or the piles upon piles of studies showing that alternative renewable-energy sources can be just as efficient as fossil fuels.
Boyd began his book pointing out that research psychologists and cognitive linguists found that if you push people’s fear buttons it triggers a survival response. When in survival mode, most people suppress concerns for others; facing overwhelming environmental threats, people are engulfed by feelings of helplessness and will not take even the smallest action toward positive change. Many will even deliberately avoid the issue. In contrast, Boyd compares hope to an elixir of action, which he clearly hopes his book will be.
Bruner, M. & Oelschlaeger, M. (1994). Rhetoric, environmentalism, and environmental ethics. In C. Waddell (Ed.), Landmark essays on rhetoric and the environment (pp. 209-225). Mahwah, NJ: Hermagoras Press.
Michael Bruner and Max Oelschlaeger contend that environmentalism as a movement has, through its practices in discourse, self-sabotaged in its attempts to promote consequential discussion or action around environmental issues. To revitalize ecophilosophy, the authors suggest an affirmative postmodernist position that leverages the study of rhetoric to increase environmentalism’s capacity to effect change in society. They develop their rhetorical framework around three dimensions of rhetoric: the critical, in revealing and questioning prevailing discourses of power; the persuasive, in moving an audience to change beliefs and behavior; and the architectonic, in transforming and building cultures and communities. Bruner and Oelschlaeger forward this rhetorical orientation for environmentalism in order to enable ecophilosophers to better discuss how ethics and cultural norms are established and maintained as well as to engage with an audience outside of their currently restricted purview such as anti-environmentalists and the general public. If the ecophilosophical community can embrace such a rhetorical mode, contemporary conversation on environmental topics could finally shift toward long-sought after goals of environmentalism.
Cantrill, J. G. (1996). Gold, Yellowstone, and the search for a rhetorical identity. In C.G. Herndl & S.C. Brown (Eds.), Green culture: Environmental rhetoric in contemporary America (pp. 166-195). Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
Cantrill’s essay describes his observations of the struggle for a cohesive rhetorical identity between founding local members and summer resident members of the Beartooth Alliance in Cooke City, Montana, and comments on how this struggle may undermine the group’s trajectory of activism in the face of a proposed mining operation in the area. Cantrill articulates the struggle toward a rhetorical identity most explicitly with reference to the factors of economic instability that would more directly affect the founding year-round local members of the Beartooth Alliance. In examining the divide between year-round residents and summer residents of Cooke City, Cantrill exposes a rhetoric of self-reliant isolation that underlies the identity formation of many Beartooth alliance members and links this theme of self-reliant isolation to the Montana advertising campaigns that tout Montana itself as “The Last Best Place.” The essay is presented as a case study and contains a description of the research protocols Cantrill followed in order to interview members of the Beartooth Alliance. Cantrill additionally identifies himself as a member of the Beartooth Alliance and cites this membership as a key reason for his being able to gain the trust of members and interview them as participants. Thus, Cantrill’s essay appeals to an audience of academics and activists who operate from similar subject positions to the one Cantrill articulates for himself.
Carpenter, R. (2013). Place identity and the socio-spatial environment. In P. N. Goggin (Ed.), Environmental rhetoric and ecologies of place (pp. 199-216). New York: Routledge.
Carpenter suggests that utilizing geographic rhetoric in environmental discourse, and beyond, is an effective method to gain support for a cause. As an example, he explores the case of a proposed biomass electric generating plant in Valdosta, Georgia in 2007. Proponents of the biomass project asserted that the pursuit would meet clean air requirements and would be a source of clean energy for the area. They utilized scientific and expert knowledge to make their case. The opponents called into question the validity of the clean air specifications and that it would be deleterious to the health of those nearby. While the proponents understood the space of Valdosta to be homogenized, the opponents recognized that it was actually quite diverse. The opponents recognized that the biomass plant would disproportionately affect the black community and understood the project as environmental racism. Despite lacking “expert” status, the geographic rhetoric of the opposition united the majority of people of Valdosta against the biomass project, and the pursuit was dropped. Carpenter clearly details the overlooked idea of geographic rhetoric as essential for environmental discourse.
Carson, R. L. (1941). Under the sea wind. 5th ed. New York: Penguin Books.
Rachel Carson is known for pioneering the environmental movement via her books, which are praised as some of America’s best environmental writings. Under the Sea Wind was her first book and her personal favorite. Her goal was to make sea life near and in the ocean accessible to her readers, and provoke fondness. She achieved this goal through narratives of various ocean creatures’ everyday lives, sprinkling in colorful adjectives and using their scientific names as character names. Additionally, the book is illustrated with line-drawings. Carson wrote about bird migrations, fiddler crabs, raccoons, and how a shipwreck made the perfect home. She discussed the not-so-cute animals like the parasitic lampreys and tiny diatoms. Carson was a marine biologist, which lent to this book being scientifically accurate, yet her writing style made it enjoyable and understandable for children and adults. The glossary in the back of the book is just as well written and illustrated with line drawings, giving brief but sweet descriptions of marine animals, their appearance, and often their importance to ecosystems or some odd habit.
Released in 1941 and receiving excellent reviews but sold poorly, likely overshadowed by the start of World War II. However, upon re-release in 1952, the book did well and continued to provide Americans a new perspective into the sea, changing our relationship to the ocean and the nature. This was a critical turning point, as for the most part up until then the ocean was a vast, deep, inaccessible mysterious thing that was still considered the solution to pollution.
Ceccarelli, L. (2011). Manufactured scientific controversy: Science, rhetoric, and public debate. Rhetoric & Public Affairs 14(2), 195-228.
In this article, Ceccarelli details three separate examples of obfuscation that commonly occur within political, public rhetoric dealing with scientific issues, and clarifies the patterns of political influence that support such an atmosphere of artificial balance whilst nurturing public uncertainty in politically disputed scientific fields. Ceccarelli first unpacks the South African president Mbeki’s refusal to accept anti-retroviral drugs due to his claims that scientists who followed the majority line within the study of HIV were keeping valuable information away from the public. Then, she describes the manner in which the ethic of equal debate and balance (and the skewing of the appearance of equal voices) with regard to the discussion of climate change in the United States has contributed significantly to public confusion about the nature of climate change itself and about the strategies that might best be deployed to deal with climate change. Finally, Ceccarelli focuses briefly on the religious framing that is still employed by supporters of intelligent design against the theory of evolution. Her proposed solution examines the mythical value of fairness in public discourse in the United States and discusses the ways in which the myth of fairness contributes politically to the trend of attempting to discredit scientists who agree with one another by generating uncertainty.
Cloud, D. (2016). Communicating climate change to religious and conservative audiences. Reflections: Public Rhetoric, Civic Writing and Service Learning 16(1), 57-74.
Doug Cloud analyzes communications, including A Climate for Change, interviews, articles and other media, from Christians and scholars Katherine Hayhoe and Andrew Farley. Cloud’s analysis uncovers three rhetorical maneuvers that Hayhoe and Farley use to inform and persuade religious conservatives of climate change’s realities and consequences: 1. minimizing political difference through shared values, 2. emphasizing local events as climate change evidence, and 3. distancing themselves from environmentalists through stereotypes. However effective these persuasive techniques may be, Cloud argues that each has its drawbacks. In the first device, Hayhoe and Farley represent difference between liberals and conservatives as primarily negative. Cloud proposes the use of difference as a resource to engage in authentic intercultural inquiry rather than discounting distinctions through their shared values narrative. The second rhetorical strategy could lead to further conflation of local, weather-based events and global, long-term climate events, a tactic that has also been used by climate deniers to propose that global climate is not warming (i.e., polar vortexes and snow storms). Finally, Cloud believes that the scholars’ depiction of environmentalists is problematic in two ways: it excludes other communities, like indigenous peoples, from their longstanding environmental activism, and it could lead to further divineness among those with different values. Cloud writes to an audience of fellow rhetoricians and climate change communicators, praising Hayhoe and Farley for effective strategies in some cases and suggesting alternatives in others.
Cope, B. (2013). Eco-seeing a tradition of colonization; revealing shadow realities of Marcellus drilling. In P. Goggin (Ed.), Environmental rhetoric and ecologies of place (pp. 28-41) New York: Routledge.
Cope contemplates how the rhetorical ecology of Pennsylvania interacts with traditional energy extraction, arguing that it has brought deprivation, environmental devastation, and boom-and-bust economies to rural Pennsylvania hills, vales, and waterways. Cope supports this investigation by considering commercials paid for by the corporation Range Resources in relation to the surrounding fracking conditions in Pennsylvania. Cope examines the commercials alongside the rhetoric of politicians and industry to convey how commercials fuel the colonizing agenda of the fracking industry, Cope illustrates how awareness of false exigencies and irreverence can lead to rhetoric of place that moves past destructive traditions, and rhetoric of negation to reflect a diverse and holistic Pennsylvania. Cope aims to illuminate the active concealment of health and ecologic concerns and the pervasive economic, industrial rhetoric shadowed in agendas of greed and cynicism. Cope makes this argument in order to reveal hidden agendas in corporate and political collusions to help local people recognize their compliancy within the tradition of colonization of the energy extraction industry. Cole closes by stating that a movement—or escape—from traditional energy colonization must occur at the local level, through a dialogue with community members, not a monologue moderated by the industry.
Cox, J. (1982). The die is cast: Topical and ontological dimensions of the locus of the irreparable. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 68(3), 227-239.
Cox elaborates on Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyleca’s treatment of the locus of the irreparable as one of several “lines of argument relating to the preferable,” and grounds this account with Heidegger’s general interpretation of human existence as Ek-sistenz, as in the ability to “stand beyond one-self.” Cox develops this argument by tracing certain strategic and ethical implications that forewarning of an irreparable occurrence has on individual and collective decision-making. Cox uses examples of objects or acts that qualify as irreparable and necessarily unique, such as a 1981 Nature Conservancy newsletter claiming that the failure to protect environments lead to “irreparable loss.” Cox forms this argument in order to reveal the important aspects of social judgement in the occurrence of commonplace discourse points of key objects of agreement between members of a group or culture. These views may offer understanding for ways that cultures view the future and the role of rhetorical occurrences of the irreparable. Cox concludes that the rhetorical uses of the irreparable is only useful in cultures confident in the ability to address the future, but in a culture in which the future is closed, this rhetoric is only an announcement of forces over which it has no control.
Dickinson, E. (2011). Displaced in nature: The cultural production of (non)place in place based forest conservation pedagogy. Environmental Communication 5(3), 300-319.
Elizabeth Dickinson argues that certain types of place-based forest learning may dismantle sense of place and instead reinforce human-nature separation. Dickinson critiqued the North Carolina Educational State Forest system program as a participant observer. Using ethnographic field methods and grounded theory, she found that the NCESF pedagogy rhetorically and spatially represented the forest as a non-place that exists for human use, encourages frequent structured human movement, places trees within culturally defined spaces, and views place as somewhere to go rather than be in, with, or from. In the paper, she describes the issues tied to human-nature dualisms, explains the problematic utilitarian ideologies within forestry culture, and analyzes the forest field trip program in the North Carolina state forests. Dickinson’s purpose is to demonstrate to forestry professionals and environmental educators that some of their well-intentioned curriculum is having the opposite effect of what they intend, which is to cultivate a sense of place, connect students to nature, and instill values that encourage responsible stewardship behavior. In order to effectively cultivate a sense of place and bridge the nature-culture divide in forest interpretation and pedagogy, Dickinson suggests providing students with more unstructured time in the forest, representing the forest outside of anthropocentric constructs in the curriculum, and giving students more time to pause in place and attune to surroundings.
Druschke, C. G. (2013). Watershed as common-place: communicating for conservation at the watershed scale. Environmental Communication 7(1), 80-96.
In “Watershed as Common-Place: Communicating for Conservation at the Watershed Scale,” Caroline Gottschalk Druschke introduces the watershed as both a rhetorical symbol and material location that encourages conservation efforts – focusing specifically on Clear Creek, a tributary to the Iowa River in Iowa. Druschke traces the history of watersheds’ transformation into a rhetorical concept of community through the works of John Wesley Powell and Gary Snyder. Collectively, they advocated for a reimagining of material hydrologic basins into cooperative communities. Their work transformed the physical common-place into a rhetorical commonplace that inspires agency, collective responsibility, and cooperative action. By orchestrating water conservation efforts around the rhetorical watershed symbol, Druschke argues, conservation organizations have been successful in rallying cooperation across communities for the benefit of the water, ecosystem, and future. Druschke’s example of the watershed demonstrates how rhetorical change can affect landscape change.
Druschke, C. G. & McGreavy, B. (2016). Why rhetoric matters for ecology. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 14(1), 46-52.
Caroline Gottschalk Druschke and Bridie McGreavy’s article “Why Rhetoric Matters for Ecology” (2016) demonstrates the ways in which attention to rhetoric can inform and improve training in environmental science communication. They point out deficiencies in current practices based on a one-way flow of information from scientists to the public and argue for a transition to a contextual model that takes into account the varying rhetorical situations of dynamic audiences; the authors show the potential for this rhetorical orientation with several examples of it in practice, drawing on their experiences working with scientists in a number of contexts. The article aims to promote an embrace of rhetoric among scientists in their communication training in order to better connect experts and the public around environmental issues. Druschke and McGreavy are writing to scientists and particularly those who train others in science communication, be it students or colleagues, with the hopes of promoting more cross-disciplinary communication via rhetorical studies.
Elder, J. (2016). Purity and change: Reflections in an old-growth forest. N. Brodie, C. Goodrich, F.J. Swanson (Eds.). Forest under story. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
John Elder reflects on his time during an H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest writing residency and in his home state of Vermont. Through vignettes of forest research and land management, Elder emphasizes the constant role of change in forest ecosystems. He cautions the use of anti-immigration-like rhetoric when dealing with invasive species, arguing that environmentalists need to halt the use of language that reinforces ecological purity and exclusion and replace this problematic rhetoric with the language of community and diversity. The author’s argument represents a balancing act. On the one hand, ecological integrity and health should be prioritized through old-growth forest protection, sustainable management, and species preservation; however, we must also recognize and embrace changes in ecosystems; the extent to which change should be embraced depends on the ecosystem’s ability to thrive after change. Although change like species hybridization of Barred and Spotted owls can weaken the viability of threatened Spotted Owls native to the Pacific Northwest, we must also question eradication policies that uphold an Edenic ideal of ecological purity and decide how we can accept the inevitability of change while still defending ecosystem health.
Endres, D. (2011). Environmental oral history. Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture, 5(4), 485-498.
Danielle Endres advocates for the wider use of oral narratives in the field of environmental communication in her essay, “Environmental oral history”. Environmental rhetoric often focuses on documented materials, such as speeches and newspaper articles, while Endres contends that oral histories can provide different perspectives that can enrich the study of environmental dialogues. She describes oral histories as a form of qualitative data collection that involves allowing the interviewee to describe their life story with less involvement and more open-ended questioning on the part of the interviewer, followed by extensive analysis of the interview. The methods of oral history collection in environmental communication will allow marginalized and overlooked groups, such as people of color, to voice their feelings and experiences regarding significant environmental events. Oral histories are usually archived for future research which will give scholars and students the opportunity to study the rhetoric surrounding the environment from a multitude of perspectives. Lastly, Endres outlines how oral histories have the potential to engage the public in the history of environmental communication, thus expanding the field beyond the boundaries of academia.
Ewalt, J. P., and Cantrill, J.G. (2017). Victims “in” and protectors “of” Appalachia: place and the common topic of protection in Missing Mountains: We Went to the Mountaintop, but It Wasn’t There. In D. Ross (Ed.), Topic-driven environmental rhetoric (pp. 106-124). New York: Routledge.
In their essay, Joshua P. Ewalt and James G. Cantrill analyze the frames evoked and arguments made by Appalachia residents to reclaim social legitimacy in the local effort to end mountaintop removal for the extraction of coal. Specifically, they studied rhetorical frames utilized by Appalchian writers in the anthology Missing Mountains: We Went to the Mountaintop, but It Wasn’t There. Ewalt and Cantrill found that two major frames emerged that evoked a sense of protection by appealing to identities and values specific to Appalachia. The “Appalachia Justice” frame is grounded by the notion that a sense of place gives Appalachians a sense of self, so a harm to the land is also a harm to the people. It frames both the land and the people as victims, the mountaintop removing corporations as attackers, and the role of protector open for the taking. The “Grounded Faith” frame appeals to the stewardship ethic implicit in the Christian values of many Appalachians. God is the creator of the land, so such marring of the landscape is an attack on God. In both frames Ewalt and Cantrill find in Missing Mountains, writers return social legitimacy to the Appalachian people and an evocation of the desire to protect the land.
Farrell, T. B. and Goodnight T. G. (1998). Accidental rhetoric: The root metaphors of Three Mile Island. In C. Waddell (Ed.), Landmark essays on rhetoric and the environment (pp. 75-105). Mahwah, N.J.: Hermagoras Press.
Thomas B. Farrell and G. Thomas Goodnight pose that the alarmist tones of the media, the uninformed public, and the ambiguous rhetoric of the scientific community surrounding nuclear plants at the time period yielded the perfect storm of national hysteria during the Three Mile Island crisis in March of 1979. The authors describe a rhetorical crisis as an event when the conventional discourse surrounding an event fails to fulfill the expectations of those involved, and the panic surrounding Three Mile Island perfectly encapsulates this concept. Even though nuclear energy seemed fairly trustworthy in the eyes of the public before the disaster, the ineffectual reassurances of the management of the plant coupled with the public’s inability to comprehend the full scope of the problem led to a great deal of speculation and distrust. Although the authors concede that nuclear plant officials and the media have since amended their strategies, they expressed the need to better understand the point of view of the public in order to prevent such a fracas from reoccurring. The essay concludes with a warning that rhetoric is constrained by predominant perspectives of the public, and the views of the public must be considered by administrative communities.
Foster, D. (2009). Kleercut(ting) downtown: The visual rhetoric of Greenpeace’s quest to save the boreal forest. Enculturation 6(2).
Foster’s article defines a boreal image event. The Kleercut Greenpeace project which Foster describes was different from many other Greenpeace projects because it relied on an image that did not directly show the environmental devastation that Greenpeace was lobbying against in the particular setting of the boreal forest; driving a truck around the city (painted and shaped like a giant Kleenex box) was a new tactic that was confrontational in a different sense than showing footage of trees being cut down; the image (of the truck painted and shaped like a giant Kleenex box) was not tracked or recorded in any way, but Greenpeace ran a website with the same slogan (now defunct) and the information on that website provided verbal components to the visual rhetoric of the Kleenex box truck. The campaign on the website encouraged everyday citizens to be involved in activism against the Kimberly-Clark paper products company (the company that makes Kleenex). The verbal rhetoric attached to the campaign asserted that the Kimberly-Clark paper products company was guilty of “forest crimes” because of their continued logging operations in the boreal forest. The leap of logic, and therefore the site of rhetorical power, that Greenpeace was pushing its audience to witness, according to Foster, was the connection between the paper products that people buy all the time, like tissues and toilet paper, and the “forest crimes” committed by the Kimberly-Clark company in order to process and sell those products.
Frost, E. A. (2013). Transcultural risk communication on Dauphin Island: An analysis of ironically located responses to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Technical Communication Quarterly 22(1), 50-66.
In her essay, Erin Frost dissects five different artifacts related to the Deepwater Horizon Disaster from the locality of Dauphin Island, Alabama. In an ironic way she discovers that larger international entities, like the U.S. federal government and the British Petroleum corporation, distribute materials locally on Dauphin Island that pertain to local matters, while local entities, such as the websites of the town of Dauphin Island and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, utilize the global space of the internet to appeal to a wider audience and tell a different story of the massive oil spill. She argues that these scenarios require a transcultural approach due to the complex and overlapping situations of the new global economy. Transcultural analysis gives voices to those not considered experts within disaster scenarios, and she argues that communication scholars and researchers need to study how local and global stakeholders communicate risks and histories between each other. She also incorporates her own experiential knowledge of the area both before and during the Deepwater Horizon Disaster.
Guignard, J. (2013). A certain uncertainty: Drilling into rhetoric of Marcellus Shale natural gas development. In P. N. Goggin (Ed.), Environmental rhetoric and ecologies of place (pp. 15-28). New York: Routledge.
James Guignard takes readers to north-central Pennsylvania and the hydraulic fracturing fields of the Marcellus Shale region. Guignard examines how the rhetoric of corporations in the fracking industry and the rhetoric of the local residents clash as they both shape attitudes and perceptions of the region. The rhetoric of those in the industry serves to abstract the region while local rhetoric peoples the landscape. The industry uses vague and nationalist framing that turns the reader’s mind to the future as opposed to the present or the past. For example, “energy independence” and “fuel the future” makes fracking a necessity for national security and progress similar to frontier rhetoric. Abstracting the region with their strategic rhetoric transforms it from a peopled “place” to a blank “space.” Ensuring that resource extraction can continues without interference. Meanwhile, through blogs, Google Groups, and letters, concerned locals are raising their voices in ways that populates this region that the industry and encourages considering an alternate future.
Haas, A. M. & Frost, E. A. (2017). Toward an apparent decolonial rhetoric of risk. In D. Ross (Ed.), Topic-driven environmental rhetoric (pp. 213-234). New York: Routledge.
Angela Haas and Erin Frost assert the necessity for technical communicators to take on what they call an Apparent Decolonial Feminist (ADF) approach to assessing and communicating risk. They first outline what an ADF rhetoric looks like: it insists on transparency about subjectivities and ideology in risk assessment and works to decolonize risk-related rhetoric and policies through its recognition of toxic colonialism, environmental equity, and localized global risk (i.e. interconnectedness). They develop this ADF approach and argue for its necessity through the analysis of two case studies (instances where the interests, sovereignty, and lives of especially Native peoples have ignored in considerations of environmental risk. The authors demonstrate how an ADF approach reveals injustices that otherwise remain invisible, thereby justifying the value in taking such an approach. They do not, however, analyze the possible reasons why this approach has not already been adopted, in the case of political policy rhetorics, to be sure, but also in the case of this article’s target audience: other technical communicators. This may reduce the persuasive impact of their argument, turning it more into a tactical toolbox for the ideologically similarly-minded than the behavior-changer the authors claim they hope the article will be.
Haller, Cynthia (2013). Conjuring the farm: Constructing agricultural places in U.S. schools. In P. N. Goggin (Ed.), Environmental rhetoric and ecologies of place (pp. 97-110). New York: Routledge.
Cynthia Haller asserts that the classroom constructs ecologies of place through an ideographic framework, specifically looking to the development of student views regarding agriculture in American primary and secondary education. Haller uses as a case study the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture’s educational website, My American Farm; she analyzes the representation of farm places on the site and the rhetorical and ideographic strategies the site employs to convey those representations. The article aims to illustrate the current rhetoric of Agriculture in the Classroom initiatives and the ways in which they operate in order to spur increased attention on the part of rhetorical scholars and educators to ideographic construction and maintenance of ecologies of place. Further research on and engagement with ecologies of place as presented by Haller could lead to a more critical pedagogy for bringing agricultural places into the classroom.
Haller, C. R. (2017). Sustainability and sustainable development: The evolution and use of confused notions. In D. Ross (Ed.), Topic-driven environmental rhetoric (pp. 213-234). New York: Routledge.
Haller argues that Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyleca’s discussion of loci and “confused notions” accounts for the perplexities of these notions’ multiple meanings and offers guidance for using them productively in an environmental debate. Haller claims that the loci of quantity and quality helped establish sustainable development as the preferred value for decision-making in environmental and economic policy, both locally and globally. Haller develops and supports this thesis through analysis of common topics of quantity and quality, which helped to establish sustainable development as a globally shared value. Heller claims that highly abstract values can provide powerful means of persuasion, because they can be used in argument to justify choices that there may not be a unanimous agreement on by inserting them into a context to which a wider agreement exists. Haller uses the example of “Our Common Future,” by the World Commission on Environment and Development, which used the loci of quantity and quality effectively to establish sustainable development as a new normative value. Haller’s analyzes “Our Common Future,” in order to convey that common topics, such as loci of quantity and quality, may be useful in environmental discourse. Haller closes by stating that further study of the relationship between common topics and values in specific environmental debates would enhance and refine the understanding of common topics, values, and confused notions in environmental argumentation.
Hathaway, M. (2015). The practical wisdom of permaculture: An anthropoharmonic phronesis for moving toward an ecological epoch. Environmental Ethics 37(4), 445-463.
Mark Hathaway calls for a shift from anthropocentrism to anthropoharmonism, a perspective which acknowledges that we cannot shed our humanness, but that we should shift the position of humanity from one of centrality to one that is interconnected with and dependent upon the environment. He suggests that permaculture, a design methodology that takes cues from patterns of organization and emergence in natural systems, embodies this anthropoharmonism. The article brings permaculture into a critical framework in order to demonstrate the ecologically transformative nature of permaculture practices. Hathaway’s treatment of permaculture elevates it into a more scholarly conversation, serving as a potential starting point for further development and applications in other academic areas and disciplines.
Huijbens, E. H., Costa, B. M., & Gugger, H. (2016). Undoing Iceland? The pervasive nature of the urban. In M. Gren & E. H. Huijbens (Eds.), Tourism and the Anthropocene (pp. 34-51). New York: Routledge.
Edward H. Huijbens, Bárbara Maçães Costa, and Harry Gugger argue that the Anthropocene has created a false urban/wilderness dyad in a world where “city-as-object and rural-as-background no longer exist[s]” (p. 37), and the best course of action to revitalize tourist destinations is to “undo” this dyad and design destinations according to a vibrant material ontology. The authors rely on a theoretical framework drawn from Grosz’s (2008) concept of design, Bennett’s (2010) idea of vibrant matter, and Latour’s (2014) Gaia theory to first establish an understanding of Anthropocenic urbanization, propose a materialist approach to undoing the urban/wilderness dyad, and finally apply this approach to the tourist destination of the Icelandic wilderness. Their purpose is to “displace the urban as a fixed point of reference in juxtaposition to the rural … [specifically] the wilderness landscapes of Iceland” (p. 34), in order to illustrate the ways in which tourist destinations must be designed in the Anthropocene to blur the lines between landscape and object. Given the disciplinary theories and intense scholarly tone of the chapter, Huijbens, Costa, and Gugger intend to convince their audience of rhetoric scholars and environmental theorists to abandon the urban/wilderness dyad in favor of a post-anthropocentric worldview.
Johnson, L. (2009). (Environmental) rhetorics of tempered apocalypticism in An Inconvenient Truth. Rhetoric Review, 28(1), 29-46.
Laura Johnson performs a rhetorical analysis of Al Gore’s film in order to account for what makes the film so influential, arguing for the persuasive impact of blending multiple environmental rhetorics. Johnson’s analysis asserts that Gore’s environmental rhetoric(s) in Truth does indeed rely heavily on apocalyptic rhetorics, but also holds these in these in tension with scientific, and ethical rhetorics, which – for Johnson – effectively mirrors the tensions of the socio-political climate, especially around environmental issues. Johnson builds off and complicates the work of Killingsworth and Palmer on millennial apocalyptic rhetoric, using Truth to show that a millennial apocalyptic rhetoric does not inherently overturn progressivism (for Gore clearly stands closer to establishment neoliberal politics than radical anti-capitalism). Johnson’s argument may have benefitted from teasing out what exactly is meant by “influential.” How influential has Truth really been, and to what end? What does the popularity of the film and Gore’s being awarded the Nobel Prize really do for environmental activism and the dissolution of capitalist exploitation? An analysis that pays closer attention to the inextricable link between progressivism and ecocide – and one that takes the dangers of reform rhetorics into account – might reveal that taking this “tempered” stance may indeed reify and render even more invisible the progressivism that continues to take our planet toward the reality of apocalypse.
Johnson-Sheehan, M. & Morgan, L. (2009). Conservation writing: An emerging field in technical communication. Technical Communication Quarterly 18(1), 9-27.
With the rise of an awareness towards environmental issues comes the need for technical communicators who have a broad range of knowledge in all subjects which fall under conservation writing as well as the ability to speak to audiences with a range of levels of understanding. In their article, Johnson-Sheehan and Morgan discuss conservation writing in terms its history, genres, and pedagogy. In discussing how the field came about and how it is impeccably shaped by its history, the authors highlight important writers over the course of the field and how these writers influenced the field. They then go on to outline the layers of evolved genres and conventions of conservation writing as an up-and-coming field. Finally, the authors discuss the importance of altering the curriculum of technical writing and communication classes in order to prepare students who wish to pursue this field. This proposed addition to the curriculum would introduce students to the environmental issues present in the world today as well as the variety of types of documents which can be produced in the field and the diversity of content within each style/genre.
Jorgenson, B. (2015) To meat or not to meat?: An analysis of on-line vegetarian persuasive rhetoric. Poroi 11(1), 1-19.
Beth Jorgenson’s article “To Meat or Not to Meat?: An Analysis of On-line Vegetarian Persuasive Rhetoric” (2015) analyzes the rhetoric of several pro-vegetarianism websites and identifies predominant persuasive strategies. Jorgenson first identifies three overarching motivational themes in vegetarianism through a brief lit review – food systems/environment, animal rights, and health and nutrition – then examines the frequency of talking points that fall under these three categories on websites that promote vegetarianism, ultimately finding that motivations rooted in animal rights are most common and that a multi-faceted rhetorical strategy can be the most effective. The article aims to identify the most effective means of persuading audiences to embrace vegetarianism in order to shift more people toward a meatless lifestyle. Jorgenson writes especially to rhetorical strategists with concern about food systems, though her conclusions can apply to any rhetors engaging with communication regarding vegetarianism.
Katz, S. B., & Miller, C. R. (1996). The low-level radioactive waste siting controversy in North Carolina: Toward a rhetorical model of risk communication. In C.G. Herndl & S.C. Brown (Eds.), Green culture: Environmental rhetoric in contemporary America (pp. 111-140). Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
In their book chapter “The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Siting Controversy in North Carolina: Toward a Rhetorical Model of Risk Communication,” Steven B. Katz and Carolyn R. Miller suggest that when communicating with the public, government and industry professionals should adopt strategies that take into account the morals, values, and emotions of all parties that have a hand in the decision-making process. The authors rely on a detailed case study of the actions taken by the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Authority in North Carolina during the 1980s to illustrate the benefits of a “rhetorical” model of risk communication over the Authority’s favored “engineering” model. Their purpose is to disassemble these two risk communication models and identify the assumptions about communication that each is characterized by, in order to explain why the engineering model suppresses the public’s participation and results in government and industry professionals feeling contempt for the public, despite face-value efforts to invite collaboration between groups. Given the subject of the case study and the disciplinary jargon used in this book chapter, the authors intend to encourage their audience of both rhetoricians and members of risk management organizations to embrace methods of communication that are rhetorically aware of audience values.
Kerr, J. N. (2017). Designing doubt: The tactical use of uncertainty in hydraulic fracturing debates. In D. Ross (Ed.), Topic-driven environmental rhetoric (pp. 189-205). New York, NY: Routledge.
Kerr’s essay describes a study in which she recorded and transcribed the conversations that took place during a public debate about hydraulic fracturing in New York in 2012. From her analysis of these conversations, Kerr distills a model of argument she terms the “balance-proof-uncertainty cycle” (p.188). The inclusion of transcribed extracts of conversation between debaters highlights Kerr’s research methodology and demonstrates the centrality of such a methodology to the definition of argument that Kerr finally articulates. While Kerr explicitly disavows any effort to find a solution for the shortfalls of the “cycle” of argument presented in the debate, I find that her description of the relationship between the elements of balance, proof, and uncertainty is generative insofar as it employs and answers Derek Ross’s definitions of balance and proof. In Kerr’s model, uncertainty is used by debaters on both sides of the issue as a tactical device to destabilize the proofs given by the opponent. This uncertainty makes the argumentation pattern into a renewable cycle. Kerr’s analysis of the transcripts of human speech from the debate provides insight into the ways in which tactical uncertainty as a method of argument is underscored by linguistic patterns of phatic expressions and repetition.
Killingsworth, M. J. & Palmer, J. S. (1995). The discourse of “environmentalist hysteria”, Quarterly Journal of Speech 81(1), 1-19.
In expanding on the original coined term of “Ecospeak” derived from the term Newspeak in Orwell’s work 1984, Killingsworth discusses the newly emerging connection between environmental studies and the humanities and how they each relate to technical and/or professional communication. The author, in keeping ties with Orwell’s work, uses the popular notion of bumper sticker phrases throughout the piece to further draw the connection between environmental rhetoric and apocalyptic notions of the climate change narrative. He goes on to explain his mantra of “writing takes place” in terms of ecocomposition and the notion that writing occurs in a place; where (in place and time) one writes influences the product. Killingsworth also discusses and elaborates on the term ecopoetics as a way to evaluate how words are used and represented and uses ‘site’ as a specific example of ow this can be used. The intended audience of this piece features environmental rhetoricians as well as scholars within the environmental humanities.
Killingsworth, M. J. & Palmer, J. S. (1996). Millennial ecology: The apocalyptic narrative from Silent Spring to Global Warming. In C.G. Herndl & S.C. Brown (Eds.), Green culture: Environmental rhetoric in contemporary America (pp. 21-45). Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
Killingsworth and Palmer’s essay, “Millennial Ecology: The Apocalyptic narrative from Silent Spring to Global Warming,” argues that the intention of apocalyptic narratives is not to undermine or attack scientific progress, but to bring awareness to dire global situations in an attempt to spark a change in the minds of the public. Killingsworth and Palmer support this idea by identifying Carson’s goal as a call to action for different and less harmful tactics, highlighting the harsh nature of Ehrlich’s predictions in Population Bomb, and delving into Watt’s apocalyptic narrative within the political climate of the 1970s. Their purpose for the essay is to demonstrate that rhetoric on global warming echoes the tone of apocalyptic narratives as a metaphor in order to make readers think about change. Killingsworth and Palmer’s intended audience of writers and environmentalists are encouraged to use their rhetorical strategies to successfully interpret posed apocalyptic scenarios and interject themselves into the political rhetoric to create a certainty of change.
Kirsch, G. E. (2013). A land ethic for urban dwellers. In P. Goggin (Ed.) Environmental rhetoric and ecologies of place (pp. 69-82) New York: Routledge.
Boston is historically notorious for neglecting citizen voices with regards to urban spaces, but the Longfellow Bridge rehabilitation project has shown the influence of public discourse on city planning as seen in Kirsch’s “A Land Ethic for Urban Dwellers”. Kirsch uses this case study of community meetings to show that although the project was originally intended to address the bridge’s aging infrastructure and traffic problems, local opinions expressed by representatives of various neighborhood stakeholders were synonymous with Leopold’s land ethic stating that people have a “right to existence” both ethically and aesthetically. People wanted to reclaim the land for the well-being of the community and the river; expanded bike lanes and sidewalks would encourage alternative modes of transportation for a healthy lifestyle while fewer idling cars would reduce carbon emissions and restoring parkland would mitigate storm runoff problems. Historical value and recreational use above and below the bridge, in addition to considering the bridge’s function to future generations, were also brought to the conversation. The project was a work in progress at the time this article was written and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation took people’s input into consideration.
Lange, J. I. (1993). The logic of competing information campaigns: Conflict over old growth and the spotted owl. In Waddell, C. (Ed.). (1998). Landmark essays on rhetoric and the environment. New York: Routledge.
Jonathan Lange writes about the analysis of rhetorical strategy using the dispute between old growth forests and the spotted owl as a case study for interactive logic seen in political campaigns. Interactive logic is the action of debating parties mimicking the other’s behavior as a communication strategy and Lange identified five of them pertaining to this case study. He immersed himself in the interactive logic method to study the relationship between environmentalists and timber industry and did so through three steps: interviews, physical presence, and analysis of written materials. He found that much like a game of chess, each party anticipates and bases their moves off the other. The “mirroring and matching” tactic gives insight to current political communication and holds potential to further study logic interactions. Thus those who are interested in political campaigns or forensic speech would find this article to be insightful to one of the nation’s most controversial environmental issues.
López , A. (2017). Developing visual literacy skills for environmental communication. In T. Milstein, M. Pileggi & E. Morgan (Eds.), Environmental communication pedagogy and practice, (pp. 112-127). New York: Routledge.
Antonio López suggests that visual literacy, which he defines as “learning how to read and… communicate with visual media” (p. 112), can play an important role in environmental communication pedagogy. Especially in this day and age where images and videos contribute a major source of information over social media, he addresses his message to environmental communication teachers and emphasizes the importance of teaching students how to actively interpret and evaluate media within a visual communication context. López provides background on visual theories but focuses and explains the three-layer process in iconology as set by Erwin Panofsky. The three stratas include: the primary stratum, which is the level of how messages are conveyed; the secondary stratum, or the meaning making layer; and the third stratum that ties in environmental discourse with the historical period and culture it was created in. Overall, his chapter serves as a guide by giving personal advice and suggestions as to how to teach students to dissect, question, and criticize visual components within media messages.
Malone, E. A., & Bashyal, S. (2017). The three pillars of sustainability as a special topic of invention in the marketing communication of plastic-packaging companies. In D. Ross (Ed.), Topic-driven environmental rhetoric (pp. 234-258). New York, NY: Routledge.
Malone and Bashyal are interested in the rhetoric behind sustainability communications and address their chapter to professional communicators or audiences familiar with environmental rhetorical theory based on the terminology used. They start by providing history of the term “sustainable development” and the creation of the three-pillars -which consist of environmental, social, and economical components- within business which are currently used in sustainability marketing communications in companies. The authors proceed to differentiate common topics and special topics to argue the three pillars of sustainability as a special topic. By attaining a list of the top ten plastic-producing companies of 2013, the authors essentially performed a content analysis on the use of the three-pillars in sustainability statements from those company websites. Malone and Bashyal conclude that plastic-packaging companies use the three-pillars in tailored arguments towards different audiences to convey a sense of sustainability if at all applicable. They also suggest professional communicators to be more critical of the context of which the three pillars of sustainability is used when they see it in practice.
McGreavy, B., Druschke, C. G., Sprain, L., Thompson, J. L., & Lindenfeld, L. (2017). Praxis-based environmental communication training: Innovative activities for problem-solving. In T. Milstein, M. Pileggri, & E. Morgan (Eds.) Environmental communication pedagogy and practice (pp. 229-238). New York: Routledge.
Bridie McGreavy, Caroline Gottschalk Druschke, Leah Sprain, Jessica L. Thompson, and Laura Lindenfeld compile a list of classroom activities that engage environmental communication pedagogy as a means of developing students’ problem solving in the context of sustainability issues. The authors provide 5 activities with rationales and examples of each that are geared towards specific stages in student work on projects from beginning to end. These activities as collected here serve as a model that teachers can use to structure their own curricula around, with the aim being to promote increased capability for solving environmental problems in students. McGreavy et al. invite continued development upon the activities they present, recognizing the various needs and contexts of different classes will necessitate different iterations; this of course will contribute to a more robust and nuanced body of environmental communication pedagogy overall.
Meister, M. & Japp, P. M. (2002). Introduction: A rationale for studying environmental rhetoric and popular culture. In M. Meister & P.M. Japp (Eds.), Enviropop: Studies in environmental rhetoric and pop culture (pp. 1-12). Westport, CT: Praeger.
As the introduction of a work dedicated to the analysis of environmental rhetoric in popular culture, the authors discuss how popular culture influences its consumers in terms of how many may view the environment and nature, especially as something that exists only for the use of humans. The introduction chapter, as well as the complete collection of works, is a look at how the average person views the environment which is mainly shaped by popular consumer culture and is anthropocentric in its aim towards economics. The authors create a basis of understanding for the audience about what is considered popular culture throughout the work and defend the study of popular culture in conjunction with environmental rhetoric. The authors explain that popular culture is the main source of information for many consumers and therefore is important to evaluate in order to understand how the public perceives nature and the environment.
Moore, M. P. (1993). Constructing irreconcilable conflict: The function of synecdoche in the spotted owl controversy. In C. Waddell (Ed.), Landmark essays on rhetoric and the environment (pp. 145-164). Mahwah, NJ: Hermagoras Press.
Mark P. Moore examines how both environmentalists and the timber industry have constructed synecdochic forms of the spotted owl to represent their views and how these conflicting tropes serve only to prevent resolution and perpetuate controversy. Moore explains how the environmentalist’s construction of the spotted owl as an “indicator” specie for environmental health is both contradictory and misleading, and the timber industry’s construction of the spotted owl as an economic “scapegoat” is illusory. He describes how these rhetorical tropes, which were designed to disarm each other, do more to represent certain values for each party – life for the environmentalists, liberty for the loggers – than they do to address the conflict at hand. In public perception, the competing realities created by these synecdoches only obscure the actual issues and even replace the larger problem that concerns economy and ecology. Moore argues that this prevents any discussion of the larger issues, hinders any realistic conflict resolution, and transforms the spotted owl into a political instrument.
Nielsen, E. B. (2017). Climate crisis made manifest: The shift from a topos of time to a topos of place. In D. Ross (Ed.), Topic-driven environmental rhetoric (Routledge
studies in technical communication, rhetoric, and culture) (pp. 87-105). New York,
Nielsen argues that there is a need for a shift in climate change narrative from being centered around only time to a more place-based approach. Often climate change is seen as a future and distant problem, but when discussed through a topos of place, the issue may become more salient and relatable to public audiences. The author develops their argument by discussing how other sources have used each variation of topos in order to prove that the use of time as an apocalyptic rhetorical tool does not work as well due to its reductive nature and that place has been more successful in its use in environmental rhetoric. Nielsen’s audience of other environmental rhetoricians may have the opportunity to realize that many readers feel a separation of the issue of climate change from themselves as they only see it affecting non-human nature and those distant from them either in time or space. Shifting the narrative towards place then provides the possibility of the public to view the issue as tangible.
Oravec, C. (1998). Conservationism vs. preservationism: The “public interest” in the Hetch Hetchy controversy. In C. Waddell (Ed.), Landmark essays on rhetoric and the environment (pp. 17-34). New York: Routledge.
Christine Oravec analyzes the rhetoric of conservationists and preservationists engaged in the twelve-year debate over the damming of Hetch Hetchy Valley. Oravec offers a nuanced analysis of the congressional hearings, public campaigns, and public statements from politicians, citizen groups, recreationists, and activists, adding a rare depth to the controversy that surpasses the simplistic comparisons of John Muir and Gifford Pinchot’s ideologies and political sway. Oravec claims that the conservationists prevailed in damming Hetch Hetchy because of their superior understanding of the public interest at a time dominated by progressivism, the political philosophy associated with conservation. Both preservationists and conservationists appealed to public interest, with the former invoking national identity by arguing to safeguard the most beautiful, pristine places, like Hetch Hetchy, the country has to offer. Although the preservationists’ argument to keep Hetch Hetchy undeveloped was initially more popular among the American public, the preservationists’ downfall was a mixture of their own fault – by undercutting their intrinsic value stance with utilitarian arguments – and the tactics of conservationists who portrayed them as elitist and classist. The conservationists’ arguments better appealed to public interest; they claimed that the Hetch Hetchy dam would serve the greatest good for the greatest many by providing San Franciscans with the life-supporting utility of water and by offering recreation, tourism, and beauty to more people than preservation alone, due to increased access resulting from necessary dam infrastructure like roads.
Ortoleva, M. (2013). “We face East” The Narragansett Dawn and ecocentric discourses of identity and justice. In P. N. Goggin (Ed.), Environmental rhetoric and ecologies of place (pp. 84-96). New York: Routledge.
Since the colonization of the Americas, hundreds on Indigenous tribes have suffered as a result, and the Narragansett people of what is now Rhode Island are no exception. In an act of cultural revival, the Narragansett began distributing a magazine in the mid 1930’s called The Narragansett Dawn. Matthew Ortoleva, in his essay “We Face East”, explores the rhetorical strategies of this magazine in an effort to understand how marginalized peoples create spaces in which they can participate in counter-discourses in regard to their identities and values. Ortoleva describes how specific texts from The Narragansett Dawn exemplify the eco-centric worldview of the Narragansett people, as well as their traditional knowledges and connection with their ancestral land, the Narragansett Bay Watershed. Ortoleva understands that discourses serve as “identity kits” that identify how people relate to their identities and how they relate to the Earth. He also takes a look at how The Narragansett Dawn portrays the fusion of traditional Narragansett spirituality with the modern influences of Christianity. The Narragansett Dawn provided cultural revitalization for the Narragansett people as well as a renewed sense of solidarity that continues to persist as they fight for tribal and economic sovereignty.
Patterson, R. & Lee, R. (1997). The environmental rhetoric of “balance”: a case study of regulatory discourse and the colonization of the public. Technical Communication Quarterly, 6(1), 25-40.
Robert Patterson and Ronald Lee argue that the emphasis on “balance” in political (especially environmental) rhetoric obscures ideology, excludes non-instrumental priorities, and neuters the public, which all contribute to a culture of “compromise” which ultimately stands in and solidifies the ecocidal status quo. To develop their argument, the authors focus their analysis on the rhetorics surrounding a twelve-year regulatory battle over the question relicensing the Kingsley Dam in Nebraska. This site is ripe for this kind of analysis because it typifies the kind of regulatory (read: falsely objective, emotionally detached, and “balance”-focused) rhetoric that has come to dominate the American political landscape. Employing Burkeian frameworks, the authors reveal how the “metaphor” of balance has become not only the metaphor but also the thing it signifies. It has become the means and the end to the point of obscuring that balance is not possible in political debates, especially those involving stakes that cannot be collectively valuated. Problematizing the recent role of politician (in this case the Governor of Nebraska) as “umpire”, the authors ultimately call for a recognition that all political rhetoric is always already partisan, and that a return to a vibrant, cacophonous partisan public. While the authors do concede that cynical critics of this argument may be skeptical of the capacity for a currently unengaged public to meaningfully engage with political issues, they assert that partisan politics is worth this fear. I wonder, given the socio-political developments since 1997, how a closer analysis of possible resistances to rhetorical power of moneyed conservative/neoliberal capitalist interests might begin to answer this question.
Pederson, O. W. (2015). The rhetoric of environmental reasoning and responses as applied to fracking. Journal of Environmental Law 27(2). 325-334.
In his article “The Rhetoric of Environmental Reasoning and Responses as Applied to Fracking,” Ole W. Pederson evaluates rhetorical moves used in debating environmental regulation, specifically the UK debate centered on fracking and the Infrastructure Act of 2015. Pederson’s article was written for environmental lawyers who stand to benefit from a greater understanding of argument and rhetorical moves, specifically how they apply to debates over environmental regulation. To start, he reviews rhetorical reasonings and responses common to the familiar progressive v. reactionary debate. Pederson then introduces new reasonings and responses that have developed trends in debates over environmental regulation. These new reasonings and responses fall into three distinct categories: temporal, qualitative, and quantitative arguments. Pederson’s article proves that debates over environmental regulation follow unique but predictable rhetorical patterns. However, he asks us to consider whether this familiar back-and-forth is preventing us from finding a constructive middle-ground on which to resolve environmental regulations.
Peterson, T. R. & Horton, C. C. (1995). Rooted in the soil: How understanding the perspectives of landowners can enhance the management of environmental disputes. In Waddell, C. (Ed.). (1998). Landmark essays on rhetoric and the environment (165-194). New York: Routledge.
It is common for environmentalists to agree that preservation of natural habitat saves endangered animals that live there. However land management decision-makers such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service do not necessarily consider the voices of whom facilitate the land on which an endangered species is located. Peterson and Horton dive into the unbalanced environmental discourse through interviews with ranchers in the instance of the golden-cheeked warbler conflict. The authors found that ranchers saw themselves as stewards of the land and that they share notable traits of stewardship: common sense, independence, and connection to the land. Farmers took pride in the agrarian belief that they are in tune with the earth since it is important to their lifestyle which they farm upon. Farmers also feel that “[t]heir self-image as stewards of the land is violated by forced implementation of land-use practices determined by outsiders to be essential for management of the warbler habitat” (p. 149). Because their voices are underrepresented when it comes to making decisions pertaining to natural habitat involving endangered species, the authors state that full consideration of all parties involved with the land can provide proper dialogue for usage of natural resources.
Pileggi, M. & Morgan, E. (2017). Storytelling as action: exploring transformation. In T. Milstein, M. Pileggi & E. Morgan (Eds.), Environmental communication pedagogy and practice (159-166). New York: Routledge.
Mairi Pileggi and Eric Morgan assert the value of storytelling as a pedagogical tool to transform student consciousness and motivate collective action/activism. To make their argument, they use a narrative from one of Pileggi’s environmental communication classes, which employed Marshall Ganz’s “public narrative” framework to facilitate students’ storytelling from a “story of me” (individual reflection) to a “story of us” (community articulation of values) and finally to a “story of us” (motivating collective action). Specifically, beginning from one student’s experience of narrative dissonance between their University’s practice of watering green lawns and the reality of a severe California drought, the class wrote their way toward taking a variety of communicative actions to address the issue on campus, raising awareness, and signing community members on to pledge to change individual behavior. As the students themselves recognized, further reflection and work would need to be done to move from a focus on individual action to addressing structural and systemic root issues. As the authors concede, this pedagogical strategy is an inspiring place to begin, a seed for further thinking, exploration, and assessment.
Plec, E., & Pettenger, M. (2012). Greenwashing consumption: The didactic framing of ExxonMobil’s energy solutions. Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture 4, 459-476.
Emily Plec and Mary Pettenger’s peer reviewed article argues that ExxonMobil’s use of a didactic greenwashing frame stifles criticism and discourages the examination of ideologies of consumption by exploiting the ethos of the scientist and highlighting technological solutions to problems deeply tied to a culture of consumerism. Plec and Pettenger contextualizes the use of environmental frames and review the practice of greenwashing in the oil industry and then turn to the ExxonMobil advertisement campaign “Energy Solutions,” a recent effort at green advertising, for analysis. This examination works at the intersections of science, knowledge, discourse, and power by articulating corporate and scientific responsibility and accountability to consumer knowledge and behavior. Plec and Pettenger propose the conceptualization of framing that blends insights of seemingly incommensurate perspectives in order to generate a critical method of frame analysis, helping to better understand corporate communication about complex environmental issues including our use, and sources of energy. Plec and Pettenger claim that the definition of green energy is controlled by those with the power to generate persuasive public messages about sources and production of energy. Their analysis suggests that ExxonMobil’s “algae” advertisements discourage consumer environmental activism and interest by positing didactic frames oriented toward technocratic and authoritarian values. They conclude by calling for counter frames and the discussion of their implications for the United States environmental movement and consumer culture in general.
Plevin, A. (2001). The liberatory positioning of place in ecocomposition: Reconsidering Paulo Freire. In C. R. Weisser & S. I. Dobrin (Eds.), Ecocomposition: Theoretical and pedagogical approaches (pp. 147-162). New York: University of New York Press.
In her essay, Arlene Plevin suggests that a focus on place in the writing class enables an engagement with Freirean liberatory pedagogy in ways that considerations of race, gender, and class don’t accomplish. Using curricula and student writing from her own writing courses taught at the University of Washington as evidence, Plevin demonstrates the connection between environmental activism enabled by ecocompositional pedagogy and Freire’s call for critical engagement with discourse hegemonies through praxis. In particular she presents her use of Aldo Leopold in the classroom, showing the link between students’ reframing of nonhumans from a land ethic perspective and recognizing their own complicity in oppression (as both its victim and its enactor). The essay aims to situate considerations of place alongside prevailing loci of critical engagement (ie race, gender, and class) in order to promote ecologically-oriented composition pedagogies for their liberatory potential. Writing for composition teachers, Plevin makes a strong case for embracing ecocomposition in classes working to decenter the classroom/teacher, interrogate forms of oppression, and empower students to be critically engaged in liberation.
Powell, R. (2017). Mapping literacies: land-use planning and the sponsorship of place. P. N. Goggin (Ed.), Environmental rhetoric and ecologies of place (pp. 186-198). New York: Routledge.
In her essay, “Mapping Literacies: Land-Use Planning and the Sponsorship of Place,” Rebecca Powell uses the example of land-use planning in Dona Ana County, New Mexico to show how local lived experience and the complex knowledge of place function as literacies and shape rhetorical opportunities for residents. To gather her data, Powell analyzed texts and observed land-use planning meetings in Las Cruces, New Mexico. In this case, a growing population led to the hiring of urban planners from New York to help negotiate a 17-year plan for developing the area. As the out-of-state planners organized focus groups of various community members and presented plans at community meetings, it became clear that expressed differences in how residents experienced the land and the city led to contradictory land-use planning goals. Also, in community meetings, it became clear to Powell that ethos was restored to residents in questioning periods particularly after the planners exposed their lack of local experience (for example, mispronouncing “Mesilla”). For Powell, the case of Dona Ana County land-use planning proves that the local, lived experience of place is a pivotal key in land-use literacy and rhetoric.
Propen, A. D. (2013). Reading the Atlas of the Patagonian Sea: Toward a visual-material rhetorics of environmental advocacy. In P. N. Goggin (Ed.), Environmental rhetoric and ecologies of place (pp. 127-142) New York: Routledge.
Amy D. Propen argues that the “Atlas of the Patagonian Sea: Species and Spaces,” does two things. First, it advocates for species conservation, and second, in doing so it illuminates questions about the use and value of the species within the atlas. Using Michel Foucault’s theory of heretics, which states that people live in heterogenous spaces with multiple uses, Propen points out that the maps in the atlas represent real territories and often hold multiple arguments and ideas about a place. Additionally, data about individual species, such as the Wandering Albatross, has been taken and converted by scientists into visual-rhetorical material that could influence conservation policy in the region. Propen explains that as environmental rhetoric, the atlas reflects shifting, contemporary contexts that also influence approaches to wildlife conservation. She concludes that the atlas reveals the current cultural moment of perceived responsibly on the part of humanity to engage with animals in ways that use cartographic technologies to help protect vulnerable species. The author uses a serious tone and appeals to logic. However, the photo of elephant seals could be a subtle appeal to emotion, as they are considered charismatic megafauna. It would seem her target audience highly educated, based on her terminology. Additionally, she is concerned with not only those that analyze the changes of environmental rhetoric, but those that do research which could influence conservation policy. She gently but firmly urges continued research in both fields.
Rajan, S. R. (2001). Toward a metaphysics of environmental violence: The case of the Bhopal gas disaster. In N.L. Peluso & M. Watts (Eds.), Violent environments (pp. 380-398). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
S. Ravi Rajan argues that in order to reduce environmental violence against marginalized peoples a set of systematic changes must occur, including radical reworking of institutions’ accountability, articulation of a “green” philosophy, and expansion of human rights to include environmental and economic factors. Rajan supports his claim by contextualizing and explaining environmental violence through five distinct attributes — technological violence, corporate violence, distributive violence, bureaucratic violence, and discursive violence — and within a detailed case study of the December 1984 Union Carbide gas explosion that permanently injured over half a million people (and killing two thousand) in Bhopal, India. His purpose is to “examine the Bhopal gas disaster with the view of understanding environmental violence as a societal phenomenon” (p. 380) that disproportionately harms people and parts of the Earth culturally deemed to be less valuable, in order to reframe the Bhopal disaster as a lesson on risk communication and environmental ethics for future generations. Given the subject of the case study, Rajan intends to convince his audience of readers interested in human-caused environmental disasters and industry risk communication to reassess how they, their own industries, and their political representatives measure the value of a human life and the Earth’s environment.
Richards, D. (2017). Reconstituting causality: Accident reports as posthuman documentation. In D.G. Ross (Ed.), Topic-driven environmental rhetoric (pp. 149-167). New York, NY: Routledge.
Daniel Richards argues that post-accident investigative reports should adopt certain posthuman strategies in order to account for the realistic and irreducible complexity of disasters caused by a combination of human, technical, and environmental factors. Richards is inspired by Beverly Sauer’s “call that we ‘make visible those marginalized forms of representation that might not be visible within conventional methods of analysis’” (p. 154), and uses Sauer’s observations to illustrate the innovative and nonreductive rhetorical moves present in the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling’s 2010 report to President Barack Obama. Richards’ purpose is to promote the posthuman strategies of irreducing, delocalizing, connecting, and historicizing in more accident reports, in order to reframe disaster causality as “distributive among humans and nonhumans and as stemming from localized risk cultures and larger historical underpinnings” (p. 155); essentially, something that cannot be attributed to a singular agent, cause, or instance of failure. Given the complex disciplinary vocabulary used and the topic of his accident report example, Richards aims to convince his intended audience of technical writers and reporters to embrace nonreductive strategies in their future disaster accident reports.
Rivers, N.A. (2015). Deep ambivalence and wild objects: Toward a strange environmental rhetoric. Rhetoric Society Quarterly, 45(5), 420-440. doi:10.1080/02773945.2015/1086491
Nathaniel A. Rivers argues that environmentalism is in need of complicating; of replacing the division between human and nonhuman nature with a sense of deep ambivalence. Rivers relies on a theoretical framework derived from object-oriented ontology, new materialism, and Louis Owens’ concept of deep ambivalence to illustrate his claims, which are then contextualized within the realm of wilderness through an allegory developed from the 2011 Norwegian film Trollhunter. His purpose is to identify the oversimplifications present in many environmentalisms that privilege humanity’s assumed control – for better or for worse – over nature, in order to explain humans’ irresponsible behavior and their constant meddling with wild objects, as well as to advocate for relationships between all natural beings that allows for permanent ambiguity. Given the disciplinary jargon and theories used in the article, Rivers intends to persuade his intended audience of material rhetoric scholars and adventurous environmentalists to adopt an ideology that “gives wild objects their full due” (p. 423) by rejecting the notion that humans exist on a separate ontological plain from non-humans.
Ross, D. (2013). Common topics and commonplaces of environmental rhetoric. Written Communication 30(1), 91-131.
Derek Ross tackles the utilization of commonplaces in regard to understanding environmental rhetoric in his essay, “Common Topics and Commonplaces of Environmental Rhetoric”. In general, Ross acknowledges that commonplaces aid in bridging different frames of understanding during a discussion, however, he argues that the use of commonplaces can be particularly useful in effectively communicating about the environment. He contends that commonplaces can improve communication between the scientific community and the broader public, and the way information is represented dictates how it will be received from different stakeholders. Ross took part in a data gathering survey of 125 Americans from all across the country who were visiting the Glen Canyon Dam visitor center in 2007. He simply asked the participants, “What are the commonplaces of environmental rhetoric?” and applied grounded theory to the data so that he could unpack the responses of the participants as indicative of their underlying assumptions about the environment. He identified 12 commonplaces used in his interviews: “Al Gore”, “common sense”, “environment as setting”, “experience”, “extremism”, “man’s achievements”, “pragmatism”, “proof”, “religion”, “recycling”, and “seeing is believing”. He analyzed these words on the basis of their managerial, generative, and encapsulated utilization.
Said, S. (2013). Taylor, New Mexico: Efforts to provide resilience to a sacred mountain socio-ecological system. In P. N. Goggin (Ed.), Environmental rhetoric and ecologies of place (pp. 54-66). New York: Routledge.
Sally Said argues that a careful use of rhetoric between two disparate entities can ultimately yield positive long term effects for both communities. She uses the example of Mount Taylor in New Mexico as a pertinent example. She begins with the efforts of five tribes, in a collaborative effort with the Forest Service and other government agencies, to classify the sacred Mount Taylor as a Traditional Cultural Property in order to protect it from a continuation of uranium mining. The tribes had suffered greatly from the previous decades of mining due to contaminated water, radiation exposure, desecration of a sacred site and many other detriments. They faced stark opposition from landowners and mining companies that sought economic gain from mining pursuits. Said references a “rhetoric of resilience” present in Indigenous communities that has allowed them to endure and re-shape themselves and outlines the characteristics of such resilience. She ultimately concludes with the hopeful possibility of the two parties to discuss their disagreements and common ground through the careful use of rhetoric and assistance from a mediating party.
Senda-Cook, S. & Endres, D. (2013). A Place of one’s own. In P. N. Goggin (Ed.). Environmental rhetoric and ecologies of place (pp. 143-154). New York: Routledge.
Samantha Senda-Cook and Danielle Endres claim that outdoor recreation discourse emboldens recreationists to find a place of their own in places deemed wild, which furthers the already prominent nature/culture dualism and harms the ecological stability of preserved places. In this article, the authors explain the consequences of the nature/culture divide and analyze outdoor recreation interviews, catalogues, and a National Geographic hiking article. Through their inquiry, the authors found that recreators desire unique experiences in wilderness areas to escape the bustle of the civilized world. The recreation articles and catalogues promote a vision of national parks and wilderness areas as non-peopled landscapes, instilling the message that potential visitors can (and should) find a place of their own (alone) to experience true nature. During the interviews, most of the recreationists express a preference to experience nature either alone or with few others with whom they are already acquainted, but many are disappointed when troves of other humans occupy these wild places. The authors assert that this proclivity to seek out solitude in wilderness instills an inaccurate and problematic representation of the human-nature relationship, and they contend that recreators should carve out a place of their own in more urban environments to recognize the nature in these places and to give the trampled wilderness time to recover from human explorations.
Shepley, N. (2013). Rhetorical-ecological links in composition history. Enculturation (15).
Shepley’s investigation of the archives of student writing at the University of Houston and Ohio University focuses on the question of influence and the ways in which outside sources function in the theory of rhetorical ecologies, tracking student writing in institutional archives and using those archives as the framework for expressing a rhetorical ecology. Shepley’s descriptions feature very little detail on what the first year writing protocols looked like at those universities during the same time frame – surprising, unless such records were too limited to include in the investigation. Notably, Shepley tracks the teachers who supervised and marketed the student writing that appears in the archives. This study is significant in that it provides a localized and trackable model of a rhetorical ecology that exists similarly within the historical record of student-composed texts for two different colleges. Shepley’s broader objective to examine administrative influence by comparing how the appearances of the student-composed texts changed over time and under the leadership of new administrators and teachers contributes to the definition of rhetorical ecology in that it explores ways in which the dimension of institutional power shapes ecologies of student writing.
Short, B. (1991). Earth First! and the rhetoric of moral confrontation. In C. Waddell (Ed.), Landmark essays on Environmental Rhetoric (pp. 172-88). Mahwah, NJ: Hermagoras Press.
Brant Short argues that the agitated rhetoric of the Earth First! organization, such as guerilla theatre, physical obstruction and threats of sabotage, combined with more traditional forms of persuasion provides the foundation for their rhetoric of confrontation, and that studies suggest that theoretical accounts of seemingly nontraditional discourse remained linked to traditional notions of logic, rationality, and artistic proofs. Short supports and develops this argument with the historical background, philosophy, and the rhetoric practices of the Earth First! organization, and a review of the rhetorical dimensions of agitation and the rhetorical characteristics of social movements. Short also evaluates Earth First! rhetoric in comparison to other contemporary environmental organizations to evaluate their success. Short hopes to illuminate the seemingly extreme rhetorical tactics of Earth First! in relation to the traditional structures of rhetoric; these forms of public communication are examined in order to evaluate their relation to the form and structure of the environmental movement. Short develops an active relationship with his intended academic audience in order to analyze the apparent drastic, and effective, measures of the Earth First! movement against more traditional forms of rhetoric, revealing their similarities and failures.
Soper, K. (1995). Feminism and ecology: Realism and rhetoric in the discourses of nature. Science, Technology & Human Values, 20(3), 311-331.
Kate Soper discusses the complexities of the differences and similarities of ecological and feminist constructive discourse. This comparison mainly revolves around the roles of gender in nature and what nature itself is as well as the need for each side to clarify their definition of nature. The author goes on to discuss each side’s take on gender, body, and biological constructions as well as the actual various definitions of nature. In discussing these takes, the author uses examples from experts from each of the fields of study. Ultimately, she determines that the main obstacle which the two sides need to bridge is their view of the definition of nature. The author states that once this definition can be determined, eco-feminism can live on as the conglomeration of the two views.
Spoel, P., Goforth, D., Cheu, H., & Pearson, D. (2008). Public communication of climate change science: Engaging citizens through apocalyptic narrative explanation. Technical Communication Quarterly 18(1), 49-81.
The authors of “Public Communication of Climate Change Science: Engaging Citizens through Apocalyptic Narrative Explanation”, whom are science communication teachers, rhetorically analyze two similar media pieces, An Inconvenient Truth and Climate Change Show, for their role in engaging public discourse between citizens and experts about climate change. Written for the informational benefit of science communicators, Spoel et al. claim that apocalyptic narratives use pathos, logos, and ethos as an important tool to not only predict what can happen in the future based on what is already known but to scientifically educate what can happen should precautions to mitigate such disasters are ignored. Analyzed excerpts from the two samples highlight the selective emotional narrative in which both pieces effectively contribute to public scientific literacy by allowing citizens to engage with each other and partake in conversations that involve policy and governmental decision-making; this emphasizes the responsibility of science communicators as a critical pivot point in disseminating climate change concerns.
Springer, M., & Goggin, P.N. (2013). Digital cities: Rhetorics of place in environmental video games. In P.N. Goggin (Ed.), Environmental rhetoric and ecologies of place (pp. 111-124). New York: Routledge.
In their book chapter, Michael Springer and Peter N. Goggin argue that if video games are to be successful teaching tools about the environmental impacts of large-scale human activity, these games must be developed with place-based rhetoric, immersion, and playability in mind. The authors rely on a comparative case study of two management simulation-type games, Energy City and Energyville, to identify effective rhetorical strategies game developers can use in the future, as well as critique design decisions that limit the pedagogical effectiveness of each game. Their purpose is to advocate for more dynamic nature portrayals and “virtual-to-real-world-transference” (p. 114) of environmental impacts caused by irresponsible in-game land and energy management, in order to prompt future developers to draw inspiration from both the classroom and mainstream video game structures. Given the subject matter of the case study and the disciplinary theoretical framework, the authors intend to encourage their audience of readers interested in environmental pedagogies, new applications for material rhetoric theory, and video game development to embrace more immersive video game design strategies to convey their environmentalist messages.
Takach, G. (2017). Arts-based research in the pedagogy of environmental communication. In T. Milstein, M. Pileggi & E. Morgan (Eds.), Environmental communication pedagogy and practice (pp. 102-111). New York: Routledge.
Using a documentary film he made and a graduate course assignment at the University of Alberta as examples of art components in education, Takach urges the integration of arts-based research in teaching because of its effectiveness in communicating environmental issues. Arts-based research uses art methodology to allow the researcher and study participant to experience understanding and the author mentions that the relationship between environmental concerns and art is the act of communication and education. Takach is sure to note the pros and cons that come with integrating art; some advantages include resonating with people’s emotion thus allowing for more engagement, traits that education alone cannot achieve, and providing a different learning perspective. Disadvantages include questioning how much prior art knowledge is needed and common standards to evaluate the effectiveness of art integration. The author concludes by asking environmental communication instructors or scholars to think about how arts-based research can further the classroom assignment and their own research or practices, as well as how to combat challenges that come with using arts-based research.
Treanor, B. (2014). Narrative and nature: Appreciating and understanding the nonhuman world. In F. Clingerman, M. Drenthen & D. Utsler (Eds). Interpreting nature: the emerging field of environmental hermeneutics (pp. 181-200). New York: Fordham University Press.
Brian Treanor claims that narrative is as important as scientific and experiential approaches to understand and respect nature. He argues that humans are fundamentally narrative beings, and scientific knowledge about the natural world and personal experiences in nature are at some level narrative. Within this chapter, Treanor explains these traditional ways of knowing nature through other scholar’s arguments like science being the first, most important approach to understanding nature or personal experience eliciting more emotional, transformative realizations to care for nature. Ultimately, the author shows the significance of narrative, like journals of John Muir in the Sierra Nevadas, to connect more people to the Sierras than science or personal experience could do alone or combined. Narrative allows for greater accessibility to a wider audience; therefore, stories and literature can better influence people to care about and understand natural places. However, he agrees that we must be wary of some narrative that skews reality through anthropomorphisms of non-human nature, which can burgeon anthropocentric ideas. Treanor appeals to a presumed audience of fellow scholars by contrasting various viewpoints of environmental historians, rhetoricians and philosophers about the best way to understand and care about nature.
Verhoeven, B. (2010). New York Times environmental rhetoric: Constituting artists of living. Rhetoric Review 30(1), 19-36.
Verhoeven argues that exploring the New York Times environmental rhetoric provides commentary on a tonal shift that is useful to environmental rhetors; provides further elaboration of our understanding of constitutive rhetoric, especially the troubled relationship between individual agency and social constraints. Verhoeven supports this argument through the exploration of the epideictic aspects of Foucault’s late work on the arts of living and the technologies of self, while highlighting ethical difficulties posed by those categories. Verhoeven analyzes Friedman’s use of syntax, and issues raised by ecofeminist writings in relation to the deep net of oppression that would need to be addressed for the transcendent unity that Friedman writes of to be achieved. Verhoeven also draws parallels between NYT articles and the White Paper and how readers of the White Paper saw themselves in the hero-explorers described therein. This relates to NYT readers of environmental rhetoric and their need to be able to see themselves in the people described in the articles. Verhoeven explores these topics in order to show how Foucault’s “artists of living” marks a successful tonal shift that can transform rhetoric of sacrifice into a form of aesthetic agency, which can highlight effective rhetorical strategies for environmentalists.
Waddell, C. (1994). Perils of a modern Cassandra: Rhetorical aspects of public indifference to the population explosion. Social Epistemology 8(3), 221-237.
In Craig Waddell’s peer reviewed essay, he argues that Paul Ehrlich’s book, “The Population Bomb,” failed to influence public sentiment and policy because of Ehrlich’s rhetorical strategies. Waddell develops this argument through a broad examination of the rhetoric of science policy through the lens of Ehrlich’s book. Waddell discusses the issues in Ehrlich’s construction of audience and how this shaped his rhetoric. Waddell provides five ways in which Ehrlich alienates his audience, one of which is in the assumption that humanistic and ecological readers are already in agreement with his theories regarding population. Ehrlich fails to distinguish between conviction, intellectual acceptance of an idea, persuasion, and the commitment to act on the basis of our beliefs. Waddell claims that the audience Ehrlich gains is left convinced of the issues but unmotivated. Waddell discusses the three constituents of rhetorical structure, as outlined by Lloyd Bitzer, and argues that Ehrlich’s arguments primarily appeal to egocentrism or homocentric audiences, who Ehrlich refers to as an audience that ‘cannot be moved to action by appeal to beauty, or a plea for mercy,’ and indulges rather than reconstitutes that audience. Waddell concludes that with a more skillful combination of appeals as outlined by Carolyn Merchant, proponents of population control should be able to engage a wider audience.
Waddell, C. (1996). Saving the great lakes: Public participation in environmental policy. In C.G. Herndl & S.C. Brown (Eds.), Green culture: Environmental rhetoric in contemporary America (pp.141-165). Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
In the article, “Saving the Great Lakes: Public Participation in Environmental Policy,” Craig Waddell explains that public participation is a major part of democracy and outlines four different democratic models which include: the technocratic model, the one-way Jeffersonian model, the interactive Jeffersonian model, and the social constructionist model. In describing each of these models, Waddell references where the idea came from and how it is established. The author then goes on to demonstrate how the social constructivist model work in the extensive scenario played out though public discussion at a hearing concerning the Great Lakes Water Quality (and quantity) with the International Joint Commission. Through outlining the hearing in detail, Waddell points out that emotional testimony works well for the public to get something passed or accomplished. Ultimately, Waddell confirms the use of the social constructionist model in the hearing outlined and states that there is more need for the public to have more technical information when weighing in on the decision-making process.
White, W. J., Spoel, P., Keränen, L., & Howard-Williams, R. (2015). Discourses of environment and disaster. Poroi 11(1), 1-9.
The 2015 ARST Preconference Session Report, “Discourses of Environment and Disaster,” frames and summarizes the four papers presented by panelists William J. White, Philippa Spoel, Lisa Keränen, and Rowan Howard-Williams, which reveal different facets of the way rhetorical constructions of risk can both reify and restructure dominant environmental ideology, policy, and practice. Keränen’s paper (written with Hamilton Bean and Phaedra Pezzullo), “The Rise of Resilience: Vulnerability and the Post 9-11 Risk Society,” performs a critical genealogy of the rhetorical frame of “resilience”, arguing that it has gained traction in the millennial age due to a sense of hopelessness around prevention, and therefore a necessity to be able to rebound from crisis. The authors problematize this focus on resilience and its tendency to deepen neoliberal consciousness. Spoel’s “Procedural Rights and Substantive Risks: First Nations’ Negotiation of Jurisdictional Issues in Ontario’s Ring of Fire Mining Development” furthers this complication of the rhetorical construction of risk, revealing the ways that risk can in cases of potential economic development present not only threat but also opportunity, and puts forward environmental justice as providing particularly useful frameworks for analysis. Howard-Williams’s paper, “Sustainability, Risk, and Ecological Modernization: The Breakthrough Institute’s Theology for the Anthropocene,” provides a sort of fun-house-mirror answer to Keränen, et al. and Spoel’s papers, demonstrating how – as opposed to resilience – “eco-modernism” uses ideals of evolution and innovation to transform some elements the status quo, while also reifying others through its tendency to put those ideals above that of justice. Finally, White’s “The Sacred and Profane in Reflexive Modernity: The Flight 93 Memorial and the Remediation of Acid Mine Drainage” provides another example of how environmental (not)rhetoric maintains the status quo: as the 9-11 Flight 93 Memorial site has been developed and rhetorically constructed as a site for the tragic loss of heroic life, (unpalatable) environmental concerns around mine drainage that don’t fit into the tidy memorial narrative have been sublimated. A common theme emerges across these papers: the question of how neoliberal progressivism rhetorically manages and constructs risk to maintain the status quo, and therefore/also where resistance may reside.
Williams, D.L. & Brandt, E.A. (2013). Sense of place, identity, and cultural continuity in an Arizona community. In P. N. Goggin (Ed.). Environmental rhetoric and ecologies of place (pp. 42-53). New York: Routledge.
Deborah Williams and Elizabeth Brandt posit that the varying attachments to place exhibited by Superior, AZ residents result in different opinions about new copper mining development in this historical mining community. The authors introduce the a newly proposed mining development that conservation groups, indigenous tribes, and climbers protested, making Superior contested terrain that represents a diversity of intersecting identities, worldviews, and interpretations of place. Opening with a description of the material, social, and historical background, the authors ground their analysis of Superior and its members in sense of place literature. Then, they propose that groups against the new mining development use two rhetorical strategies: place-based arguments and place as rhetoric. Finally, the authors introduce the discourse and rhetoric of interested parties. Some community members, particularly long-term Latino residents who are proud of their mining heritage, see the mine as a way to reinvigorate community ties and provide economic revitalization. Others—like new residents, artists, and Anglos—question the boom and bust nature of mines and fear environmental degradation like pollution as well as the destruction of valued scenery.
Wynne, B. (1992). Misunderstood misunderstanding: Social identities and public uptake of science. The Public Understanding of Science 1, 281–304.
Brian Wynne argues in this paper that the best way to understand how the public responds to scientific knowledge and/or advice is to move beyond trust and credibility. While trust and credibility do influence the uptake of knowledge, they are contingent on social identities formed by social relationships and networks. Using a case study of hilltop farmers and sheep herders near Chernobyl, Wynne points out the dynamic and uncertain inner discourses lay people hold within themselves about who the scientists are and what they are doing. Based on their social identities from previous lived experiences, some thought that the scientists were working with the government in a conspiracy, yet none would argue against their expertise. The main issue presented is that lay people are often expected to self-critique their local knowledge and have their social identities ignored, while scientists are treated as immune to critique. Wynne concludes that for science communication/advice be effective, it must do two things, (1) scientists must inquire about local knowledge, traditional social practices, and essentially acknowledge the identities within the community and (2) allow that community to critique/question their methods, results, etc., just as that community critiques and questions its own knowledge.
Zoetewey Johnson, M. (2014). Green lab: Designing environmentally sustainable computer classrooms during economic downturns. Computers and Composition 34, 1-10.
Zoetewey Johnson’s article investigates the the most feasible environmentally sustainable options for writing classrooms equipped with computers in the near academic future. While the argument relies partially on a 2006 study regarding energy-efficient computers called “thin clients,” the article also addresses the particular concerns of the writing classroom within the context of an environmentally sustainable computer lab. According to Zoetewey Johnson, thin client computers rely heavily upon cloud technology and offsite servers, but within the classroom, this computer type would help institutions to save money on equipment because the machines themselves cost less to buy than desktop computers and would only need to be replaced half as often as desktop computers. However, the upfront savings of the classroom machines themselves would be somewhat depleted by the cost of maintaining servers to retain compatibility with the thin client computers, especially under the wear and tear of student use within the classroom. Zoetewey Johnson also articulates part of the reason behind the preference for classroom computers to be as fast and high-powered as possible, rather than environmentally friendly or empowering, by focusing on the needs of a writing classroom and reporting on the technological constraints that might be faced by students in writing and media intensive classes if they only had access to thin client computers.
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