Marija Grech is a lecturer in English Literature and Critical Theory at the University of Malta, and a visiting fellow with the School of Humanities & Languages at the University of New South Wales, Sydney.
Introduction: Spectral Present, Specular Futures
Chapter 1: Preservation and Stasis: The Anthropocene Echo-Chamber
Chapter 2: Lithic Textuality: Reading and Writing Beyond Life and the Human
Chapter 3: Entangled Survivance: Material Inscriptions of Otherness
Chapter 4: Re-Reading the Nuclear Trace: Diffractive Paradigms for the Anthropocene
Conclusion: Rewriting the Anthroprocene
About the Author
Combining materialist and Derridean approaches, Grech’s book is a tour de force when it comes to thinking the Anthropocene away from the standard debates and arguments that continue to perpetuate human exceptionalism. This exceptionalism is powerfully challenged when Grech argues that the constructed boundaries between the human and nonhuman, living and non-living, organic and inorganic, biological and discursive are entangled. In making this argument, Grech, at the same time, convincingly and carefully critiques the uninformed dismissals of Derrida’s work as simply a cultural system of linguistic and language references that exist outside the material domain. Accessible, clear and beautifully written this book is a must-read.
Marija Grech's Spectrality and Survivance: Living the Anthropocene, presents us with an argument whose provocations have an after-life. For for scholars in the humanities, especially those who remain unsure about engaging the sciences, the book illustrates a way forward. The bibliography and footnotes are comprehensive, signposting pathways into science and science studies literature, as well as the political and ethical debates around human exceptionalism and the Anthropocene..
Grech has a very good sense of the field, and while literature on the Anthropocene is reaching peak levels, this book still manages to carve out a space unique in its exploration of inscription (and the related notions of spectrality and survivance).
Spectrality and Survivance makes skillful use of science, semiotics, literary theory, and philosophy and combines approaches from each in thought-provoking connections. However, it is in the recuperation of Derridean materiality and textuality for our irradiated Anthropocene world that Grech’s work introduces its most innovative elements: the disruption of presence as a stable category, and the case for the entanglement of matter in patterns of otherness and difference that render it both textual and spectral. The debate on the semiotic project of the Anthropocene of making human marks on and in the Earth is given a major new direction by this rigorously researched and well-written work.
For my work in new materialist ecocriticism, Grech’s book provides a crucial methodological link to help explicate how narratives of complex material entanglements challenge the violences inherent in Anthropocene logics of exclusion, futurity, and stasis; i.e., through their engagement with potent examples of survivance and spectrality.
Grech engages with both complex theory and concepts from the natural sciences with an unusual lucidity and accessibility, and without compromising intellectual diligence. Readers accustomed to new-materialist theory will feel at home in themes such as material agency, entanglement, and intra-action. But in addition, the book supplements recent – and important – attempts to put what is often (and problematically) described as the linguistic and the material turns into dialogue with each other. Spectrality and Survivance verifies the fact that matter is textual and that the textuality highlighted by deconstruction was always already material, and it does so in an articulate, nuanced, and elegant manner.
Spectrality and Survivance is thought-provoking, and while some of it retreads territory covered by earlier studies, Grech’s application of deconstruction to Anthropocene discourse is innovative. She convincingly demonstrates that the linguistic turn can provide useful tools to materialist ecocriticism, and to ecocriticism in general. Also, Spectrality and Survivance is well-written: Grech’s explanations of Derridean thought, radioactivity, and other complex concepts are clear and efficient.