Colonization to Climate Change: American Literature and a Planet on Fire

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter takes Jack London’s story “To Build a Fire” as a starting point for the elaboration of an ecocritical method that attends to quotidian things and habits of consumption as they have appeared across an array of American literary and cultural productions over the long twentieth century. It focuses in particular on consumable commodities like meat, tobacco, and petroleum, tracing them back to their points of origin—through space to distant sites of industrial production and through time to the longer history of colonization from which American industrialization emerged—as a way of revealing the deep implication of modern American life, from its food culture to its literary forms, in both the histories of colonial expropriation and carbon emission and the present planetary crises that have been their cumulative result.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Twentieth-Century American Literature
EditorsLeslie Bow, Russ Castronovo
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191862717
ISBN (Print)0198824033, 9780198824039
StatePublished - Oct 20 2022

Publication series

NameOxford Handbooks


  • coloniality
  • oil
  • tobacco
  • meat
  • Jack London
  • environmental humanities
  • ecocriticism
  • climate change


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