The Eco-dystopian Expression and the Spirit of Environmental Sustainability in Thomas Nuttall’s A Manual of the Ornithology of the United States and Canada and Other Works

By Li-Ru Lu.

Published by The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability

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This essay explores the eco-dystopian and eco-apocalyptic expression in early American natural writing, focusing on the works of Thomas Nuttall, an early-nineteenth-century traveling naturalist from England. In his writings such as "A Manuel of the Ornithology of the United States and Canada" and "The North American Sylva," Nuttall offered readers comprehensive natural histories of early America. Witnessing the tremendous environmental transformations in the United States through his travels, Nuttall documented the slaughter and devastation of America’s birds. This essay highlights the eco-dystopian and eco-apocalyptic portrayal of the extirpation of birds in Nuttall’s "A Manuel of the Ornithology of the United States and Canada" and other works, analyzing how Nuttall addressed the ecological implications of American birds’ extinction, how he evinced his environmental anxiety and ecological worries, how he pioneered the ecological arguments for protecting the natural world in America, and how he inspired the conservation and sustainability thinking we associate with later environmental philosophy.

Keywords: Thomas Nuttall,, the eco-dystopian and eco-apocalyptic expression,, the spirit of environmental sustainability

The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability, Volume 9, Issue 4, December 2014, pp.85-96. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 542.912KB).

Li-Ru Lu

Associate Professor, The Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, National Sun Yat-sen University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan