Type of Document Master's Thesis Author Shanks, Justin Donald Author's Email Address email@example.com URN etd-11022009-153538 Title Among the Giants: Resituating the Environmental Philosophy of John Steinbeck Degree Master of Arts Department English Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Stahl, John D. Committee Chair Colaianne, Anthony J. Committee Member George, Diana L. Committee Member Keywords
- Aldo Leopold
- John Muir
- John Steinbeck
- more-than-human world
Date of Defense 2009-10-23 Availability restricted AbstractDeeply influenced by emotional, ethical, and ecological principles, John Steinbeck
developed a holistic ideology to describe and analyze the relationships among
individuals, society, and the more-than-human world. Although he explored
environmental issues with ecological insight and philosophical contemplation that placed
him well beyond his literary and scientific contemporaries, Steinbeck’s contributions to
modern ecological inquiry and environmental thought have received only intermittent
attention from literary scholars. Throughout his writing, Steinbeck develops a view of
intellectual holism that encourages (perhaps even enables) us to dovetail science and
ethics as we attempt to construct a new environmental paradigm. Viewing the world
through his holistic lens, Steinbeck was able to see the global ecosystem, local
environments, human communities, and even minute tide pools as objects of scientific
and artistic inquiry. Specifically, it is my contention that the American environmental
movement owes a greater debt to John Steinbeck than it realizes. In short, John Steinbeck
made significant contributions to the growing awareness of human-nature
interconnectedness and the parallels between social ills and ecological ailments. Yet, for
whatever reasons Steinbeck is not granted a position of honor alongside the other giants
of American environmental thought. Now witnessing the full blossoming of 21st century
environmentalism, it is useful to cast a reflexive eye upon our ideological forebears with
the intent to better understand the genealogy of the American environmental movement.
Doing so will not only provide a richer and fuller family tree, but will also promote
additional flourishing of new approaches to solving ongoing environmental troubles.
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