Writing and the Environment
Submitting InstitutionBath Spa University
Unit of AssessmentEnglish Language and Literature
Summary Impact TypeEnvironmental
Research Subject Area(s)
Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies, Literary Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies
Summary of the impact
This study addresses the impact of researchers in the Writing and
Environment Research Centre who have pioneered the `environmental
humanities', contributing to public debate in a field of acknowledged
political and cultural importance. Neale's work has been used by trade
unions in the UK and overseas. Garrard's book is used in HEIs in the UK
and abroad. Evans reaches public audiences with his BBC radio work and Guardian
column; Kerridge with literary nature writing. Kerridge and Garrard have
influenced the teaching of ecocriticism in numerous universities.
Collectively, the centre contributes to public awareness of the cultural
aspects of environmental questions.
Richard Kerridge has lectured at BSU since 1990; Greg Garrard since 1997.
Jonathan Neale was appointed in 2004, and Paul Evans in 2009. Together
they form the nucleus of the Writing and Environment Research Centre.
Kerridge and Garrard are literary ecocritics, who have played leading
roles in the development of ecocriticism in Britain. The Centre developed
from their work. In 1992, Kerridge introduced the first ecocriticism
module in Britain, and in 1998 edited, with Neil Sammells, the first
collection of ecocritical essays, Writing the Environment. Garrard
published Ecocriticism in 2004: the first British
monograph-introduction. They have since published widely on ecocritical
topics. Kerridge's nature writing has recently appeared in Granta
and Poetry Review. He was awarded the 2012 Roger Deakin Prize by
the Society of Authors. Kerridge and Garrard were the first Chairs of the
UK and Ireland branch of ASLE (the Association for the Study of Literature
and Environment), and from 2005 to 2008, Kerridge was an elected member of
the Executive Council of the original US ASLE. They have given plenary
lectures at conferences held by ASLE, ASLE-UKI, ASLE-Australia and NZ, and
EASLCE, and have organised several funding bids. In 2010, Garrard was
successful with an AHRC Network bid with Bath University, which funded
`Cultural Framing of Environmental Discourse', a multidisciplinary
network. Kerridge was sponsored by the AHRC and the British Library to
speak at a multidisciplinary conference at the Indian Institute of
Science, Bangalore, 2011.
Neale is a creative writer of great versatility, whose work includes
novels, children's novels, plays, travel writing, popular history, popular
science and political writing. His impact in this field comes from Stop
Global Warming: Change the World (2008), and subsequent
collaborative work arising from the impact of that book. A work of popular
science and political argument, ranging through scientific, economic and
personal material, it covered the science of climate change, the social
context of climate disasters and the history of climate politics. At that
time it was unusual to argue that the solution would involve not a
reduction in growth but an expansion worth millions of jobs. Primarily a
literary writer, Neale had to experiment with readings to different
audiences to train himself in making the scientific material clear.
Evans is a nature writer, dramatist and broadcaster. Since 1992 he has
contributed weekly Country Diary columns to The Guardian,
also writing feature articles. He is a regular writer and presenter for
established Radio 4 programmes such as Nature, Costing the
Earth, Living World, World on the Move and Saving
Species, as well as feature programmes based on landscape writing
and sound, such as Wicken Fen, Islay, The Wrekin, Orford
Ness and Dungeness. His plays for Radio 4, Owls
(2007), The Ditch (2009), The Shining Guest (2011), Hy-Brasil
(2012) and Chapel of Skins (2013) were innovative combinations of
nature documentary and Gothic thriller. Owls was performed on
stage by Auricular in London (2010); The Ditch won the drama award
at the BBC Audio and Music Awards (2011). Evans's nature writing has
appeared in Nature Tales (2009), On Nature (2010) and The
Living Edge (2011).
References to the research
1) Evans, .BBC Radio 4 plays and contributions to programmes. E.g.:
2) Evans, Guardian Country Diary columns. Submitted in REF 2. See
Celia Locks, The Guardian: "Paul is one of the Guardian's best
Country diarists and over the 10 years or so that I was editor of the
column, I received a lot of letters and emails about his writing. The vast
majority were extremely complimentary. He takes the diary into poetic
territory while at the same time conveying a deep knowledge of both nature
and Wenlock Edge."
3) Garrard, Ecocriticism (London: Routledge, 2004).
Ashton Nichols, Professor at Dickinson College, describes the book as "the
best single introduction to the subject for students, undergraduate to
postgraduate and also for scholars interested in learning about or
focusing their knowledge of the fastest growing field in literary
interpretation and research. My students have praised its clarity and
scope, and colleagues have often thanked me for referring them to his
title. The structure is clear, the organization logical, and the specific
content accurate and extensive. I suspect this is the sort of title that
will remain on bookshelves of grad students and scholars for decades to
come. If there is a better book for the purpose, I do not know what it
is." Chad Davidson at the University of West Georgia says that the opening
chapter "was the very reason I taught the first incarnation of this
class." Professor Catherine Rigby at Monash University considers Ecocriticism
one of a small number of landmark works in the field."
4) Kerridge and Sammells, eds, Writing the Environment (London:
Zed Books, 1998)
5) Neale, Stop Global Warming: Change the World (London:
Details of the impact
Garrard and Kerridge have written most of the textbook material on
ecocriticism published in Britain. Ecocriticism appeared in 2004;
a revised edition in 2012. Writing the Environment appeared in
1998; Kerridge's ecocriticism chapter in Literary Theory and
Criticism: an Oxford Guide (ed. Waugh) in 2006. These works have
been widely used in university courses.
Ecocriticism has been a required resource on 29 courses at
institutions in the UK, US, South Africa, Canada, Australia, India and
Taiwan. One of Rigby's PhD students is using Garrard's chapter headings to
organise his research on the representation of masculinity and landscape
in Australian young adult fiction - an example of the usefulness of
Garrard's identification of key tropes in ecocriticism. The 2005 report on
ecocriticism in the UK, produced by Garrard and Kerridge as part of the
HEA report on education for sustainable development (Dawe, Jucker and
Martin, HEA), has continued to influence development in the field. Dr
Arran Stibbe of University of Gloucestershire writes that the report "was
influential for me in expanding from a pure ecolinguistics focus to
greater inclusion of ecocriticism", leading to a new module.
Neale's book persuaded senior union officials and academics to launch a
campaign for one million climate jobs. For this campaign, in 2009 and
2011, a team led by Neale (lised in the report) produced two editions of a
highly influential report calculating numbers of jobs would needed in
renewable energy, transport, and construction over twenty years, what
reductions in emissions they would produce, and how they could be funded.
Neale rewrote these for accessibility to union members. A group of South
African unions and environmental organisations adapted the methodology to
produce a similar report in 2011. Neale contributed, and was also asked to
write a report for the ETF, the federation of transport unions in Europe,
dealing with possibilities of public transport using renewable energy. On
request, in 2011-12, he wrote materials on climate change for transport
unions all over the world to use in educating their members. Since 2011,
Neale has been working with the Alternative Information & Development
Centre in facilitating the development of a Climate Jobs Campaign in South
Africa. He has made several visits to South Africa, written papers and
reviewed research undertaken by the South African Million Climate Jobs
Campaign. With the AIDC, he organised three seminars at the Rio + 20
Summit in Rio in June 2012, leading to the development of a global network
of organisations promoting advocacy for climate jobs. Brian Ashley,
Director of the AIDC, states that Neale's support and contribution "has
been invaluable for our work". In 2013, Neale signed a contract with the
Campaign against the Arms Trade, a long established NGO, to write them a
15,000 word report by 1 October on the prospects for jobs in renewable
energy as a policy alternative to jobs in the arms trade.
Paul Evans is one of the most influential radio broadcasters in this
field, setting new directions for Natural History Unit output. Owls
won the Audio and Music Drama of the Year Award for 2007, and each of the
five documentary-dramas (see above) was a Radio Times Pick of the
Day. Sarah Blunt of the BBC Natural History Unit points out that each
production involved the employment of a substantial team - an instance of
how the research produced by writers is indispensable to the employment of
professionals of various kinds in broadcasting, publishing and other
related industries. Positive reviews of these works from The Times,
The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Glasgow Herald
and The Scotsman are available, as is a letter of praise from BBC
Radio 4 Commissioning Editor Jeremy Howe. Evans was a member of the panel
of judges for the BBC Wildlife Award for Nature Writing (the
leading British literary prize in this genre) in 2010, 2011 and 2013.
Indicative BBC Wildlife sales: 40,963 in July - December 2012.
Celia Locks, Guardian Country Diary editor for ten years, and
John Vidal, environment editor, attests that Evans is consistently one of
the most popular contributors, judging by readers' responses. An
indication of Evans's status and influence is that in 2010 when the new
government was proposing to sell publicly-owned forests, Evans was
called-upon to give an on-the-spot broadcast from the Forest of Dean,
taking up five minutes on Radio 4's primetime current affairs programme The
World Tonight. It is impossible to quantify the influence of such an
intervention, but the controversy was an intense national news story that
resulted in a change of government policy.
Sources to corroborate the impact
1) Individual: Senior Professor and Director, Centre for Civil
Society, School of Built Environment and Development Studies, University
of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Has provided a statement to corroborate
the impact of Neale's research on international campaigns for climate
2) Individual: Climate activist with Concerned Scientists Norway,
and Associate Professor of Journalism, Oslo and Akershus University
College. Has just written a booklet on 100,000 climate jobs in Norway (in
Norwegian), backed by several unions and the Norwegian Church. Can
corroborate Neale's influence on climate activism internationally.
3) Individual: Commissioning Editor, Radio 4. Impact of Evans'
creative writing style on listeners' appreciation of the natural world.
4) Individual: Country Diary Editor. Statement provided
confirming Evans' impact on listeners.
5) Individual: Professor of Environmental Humanities. The
international impact of Kerridge's and Garrards's work on the
Environmental Humanities curriculum in higher education.
6) News item: CAAT News July-September 2013, issue 229 (page 11,
Corroboration of Neale's work with the Campaign Against Arms Trade.
7) Report: Presentation of One Million Climate Jobs
to the House of Commons. http://www.climate-change-jobs.org/reports.
Corroboration of the report being considered by ministers. Indicating
impact on national policy formulation.
8) Video: Jonathan Neale introducing his book, Stop
Global Warming - Change the World at a meeting organized
by the Brent Campaign Against Climate Change at the Willesden Green
Library in London on Monday June 6, 2011. The video demonstrates Neale's
impact, as a creative writer, in making scientific material clear to wider
9) Reviews of Ecocriticism on Good Reads. Indicative of
the reaction of readers outside academia to Garrard's work, and his
influence on public understanding of writing about the environment: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1737020.Ecocriticism.