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Dendrography and ecological realism

Abstract

© 2016 The Trustees of Indiana University. The term dendrography here describes a form of ecological realism that strives to inhabit the scale and perspective of the arboreal. While a tree embodies bioregional rootedness, it also reaches up into the atmosphere, often obtaining a height and distance from the earth that exceeds the scale and duration of the human. Dendrography thus attempts to move away from the individuated human life that is primary in most nineteenth-century realisms. Thomas Hardy’s second novel, Under the Greenwood Tree (1872), attempts just such a dendrographic reach from the perspective of the regional novel, and yet, it is simultaneously a study of the limitations of human perception and representation in the face of an ecological medium of which we are also a dialectical part.

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