America After Nature

Democracy, Culture, Environment

In ‘Democratic Vistas’, a text that responds to the United States’s devastating experiences of the Civil War, Walt Whitman reminds his readers that the nation should continue to find its political ideals and cultural purposes in “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” His concept of nature was anchored in the ideas of eighteenth-century natural rights philosophy, but also in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s definition of nature “in the common sense” as a totality of essences unaltered by human labor and industry.

Whitman’s contention that nature provides the concepts and ideas at the core of America’s political, cultural, and social structure, and the current critical contention that nature's massive restructuring will not remain without consequences for modern culture(s), offer the conceptual and historical frame for the essays collected in this volume. They all investigate the social, political, ethical and aesthetic questions and controversies that are raised in the study of America in a so-called postnatural world.


Sarah Cullen in: Irish Journal of American Studies, 7 (2018) online, URL:

Chad Weidner in: Ecozon@, 8.1 (2017), 234ff

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