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Gija Jumulu: Arboreal Ecocriticism and the Australian Boab

John Charles Ryan    Southern Cross University and University of Notre Dame, Australia    

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abstract

The idea of arboreal ecocriticism – or dendrocriticism – reflects the burgeoning interest in vegetal life within the Environmental Humanities. Concerned with arboreal texts of diverse kinds, dendrocriticism can be understood as a tree-focused mode of environmental, literary and cultural analysis. This article theorises dendrocriticism in relation to the boab (Adansonia gregorii), a large tree endemic to Northern Australia. Narrating boab subjectivity and corporeality, the arboreal texts discussed here include Alec Choate’s poem “Prison Tree, Derby” (1978), Bill Neidjie’s verse narrative Story About Feeling (1989), Tim Winton’s novel Dirt Music (2001) and Veronica Lake’s poem “Boab Tree” (2012), the latter written from the perspective of Gija Jumulu, a massive boab relocated two-thousand miles from the Kimberley to Perth. In response to global forest decline, prospective areas of dendrocritical focus include, inter alia, the traditional botanical knowledge of indigenous people, scientific studies of vegetal cognition and the limits of dendrocentrism – the privileging of trees over other plants.

Published
Dec. 15, 2022
Accepted
Oct. 21, 2022
Submitted
June 7, 2022
Language
EN

Keywords: Environmental humanitiesBill NeidjieTim WintonGija JumuluAlech ChoateArboreal ecocriticismDendrocriticismVeronica Lake

Copyright: © 2022 John Charles Ryan. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.