Empiricial Ecocriticism

Coalition Abstract

Empirical ecocriticism is an emerging subfield of ecocriticism that focuses on the empirically grounded study of environmental narrative – in literature, film, television, etc. – and its influence on various audiences. The main objective of empirical ecocriticism is to put to test empirically claims made within ecocriticism, and the environmental humanities more generally, about the impact of environmental narratives. To this end, it employs empirical methods used in disciplines such as environmental communication, environmental psychology, and the empirical study of literature. These include correlational and experimental studies, qualitative research, and others. As currently defined, empirical ecocriticism is (a) empirically grounded; (b) open to qualitative and exploratory methodologies; (c) focused on the effects of narrative strategies and techniques, with the kind of depth and nuance that cultural critics have brought to their research for decades; and (d) open to critical engagement with competing conceptions of “empirical” data. One the central aims of this interdisciplinary field is to gain a better understanding of the role of environmental narratives in influencing people’s awareness, attitudes, and behavior in a time of rapid social and ecological transformation. Combining approaches from the humanities and the social sciences, empirical ecocriticism explores the ways in which people from various cultural backgrounds engage with environmental narratives and the larger repercussions of such engagement.

Author: Alexa Weik von Mossner