In Wetlands and Western Cultures: Denigration to Conservation, Rod Giblett examines the portrayal of wetlands in Western culture and argues for their conservation. Giblett’s analysis of the wetland motif in literature and the arts, including in Beowulf and the writings of Tolkien and Thoreau, demonstrates two approaches to wetlands—their denigration as dead waters or their commendation as living waters with a potent cultural history.
Rod Giblett is honorary associate professor of environmental humanities at Deakin University.
Introduction: An Invitation for Wading into Wetlands
PART 1: WETLANDS AND -OLOGIES
Chapter 1: Theology of Wetlands: Tolkien, Beowulf, and Milton on Marshes and Their Monsters
Chapter 2: Psychology of Wetlands: Mourning, Melancholy, and Marshes
PART II: WETLANDS, ART, AND CULTURE
Chapter 3: Wetland Cultures of the English Fens: Politics, Painting, Poetry, Prose, and Art History
Chapter 4: Wetland Cultures of ‘Australia Felix’: From Mountain Ranges and Landscape Painting to Wetland Places in Environmental Artwork
Chapter 5: Wetland Cultures of ‘Western Australia Felix’: From Mountain Range and Landscape Aesthetics to Wetland Womb in Environmental Artwork
PART III: WETLANDS AND CITIES
Chapter 6: The Birth of Sydney and the Death of its Wetlands
Chapter 7: Water in Urban Waterscapes and Wetlands in London and Melbourne
PART IV: WETLANDS AND NATURE WRITING
Chapter 8: Henry David Thoreau: The Patron Saint of Swamps
Chapter 9: Farewell: Nature writing and Black Swan Lake
Wetlands and Western Cultures is a visceral and imaginative foray into the connectivities between landscape and human civilization across time. Rod Giblett gracefully traces our collective changing attitudes toward, and appropriation of, wetland ecosystems from ‘drain and reclaim’ narratives to a growing awareness of the necessity of embedding wetlands within sustainable and regenerative futures. This beautifully sculpted work serves as a reminder of the intractable relationship which exists between nature and culture with humans acting as both conduit and fabricator.
In Wetlands and Western Cultures, Giblett builds on his classic Postmodern Wetlands, diving deep into the black living water of wetlands—past and present, cultural and ecological—to account for their settler denigration and destruction and learn from currents of resistance. A marriage of scholarly intervention and activist intent, it is a work for all those who wonder at the widespread neglect of these crucial ecological zones.