Uncovering New Ground for American Nature Writing: Discourses of Natural History from John Bartram to Wilson Flagg

Situating the work of John Bartram, Peter Kalm, John Davidson Godman, and Thomas Wilson Flagg at an exciting intersection between natural history and aesthetics, this study argues for the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century origins of the North American tradition of environmental thought. The work of these authors contains profound attentiveness to the wonder and beauty of nonhuman nature at a culturally significant period in the nation’s history. Lu offers thorough explorations and examinations of the connections between natural history discourses, close observations of nature, and sustainability and conservation ethics, tracing the ways in which the writing of Bartram, Kalm, Godman and Flagg anticipates twentieth-century American conservation thinking. One of the distinctive features of Uncovering New Ground for American Nature Writing is its attention to under-scrutinized authors, such as Flagg, and the descriptive power of his writings. The prose writing treated in this book is scientifically and aesthetically valuable and influential, because of its devotion to the discovery of plants, trees, and wildlife combined with a literary language. The four authors analysed in this book make far-reaching connections between a vast number of nonhuman inhabitants and their environment in North America.

The Fires of Adversity in Latin America: Neoliberalism, Globalization, and Free Trade

In a world that is toying with neo-fascist tendencies, Latin America’s painful experience with fascist military governments and North American corporate capitalism should be a red flag. From 1954 to 2005, Latin America underwent social, economic, and environmental upheaval brought about by neoliberalism’s preference for North American corporate control of Latin American sovereignty. Latin American dictatorships spelled out stable platforms for North American corporations by deregulation and privatization of public wealth. They also increased corporate profits. This book presents nine different articles on the fires of adversity that the Latin American public endured at the hands of North American corporations: the military coups the corporates scripted, the death squads that Operation Condor sanctioned, and the massive pollution of the Amazon by North American extraction of oil and minerals. These corporations bought political influence and decision-making. The unfettered growth of corporate interests worked counter to the interests and well-being of the Latin American public. By 2005, the Latin American nations soundly rejected the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA). Their experience of the reign of corporate money on the Latin American society was not only a form of neocolonialism, but it also provoked unsustainable social upheaval, inequality, and toxic pollution by corporate dumping.

Socrates the Rower: How Rowing Informs Philosophy

The shirtless guy is slapping an aluminum baseball bat in his palm, threatening to brain me because I have a dog in the back of my truck and his sign clearly says that they don’t allow no dogs, no how at his fleabag motel. When I say she can stay in the truck, he replies: “She’s still a dog, ain’t she?” and thereby absolutely nails the essence of ontology. As we peel out to avoid being smacked, my wife flips him a single digit gesture—a perfect example of what the Supreme Court calls “pure speech.” Philosophy isn’t so hard, after all.

Philosophy is about everything: how we know what we know, how we define our place in the universe, what we believe and how we judge truth, beauty, and justice. Ethics, in particular is about the good life and how we learn to be happy. But all of this is just words on a page unless we can actually use it in our lives and that is where rowing comes in. Rowing, and especially competitive rowing, teaches us about teamwork, community, courage, steadfastness, and a host of other qualities that have been the subject of philosophical musing for all of recorded history.

What this book does is make philosophy useful by tying it to physical activity. Our minds and our bodies have lessons to teach to each other and the successful athlete as well as the successful scholar learn these lessons through sweat, pain, and ultimately, inspiration.