Of rat waldens and quests for rubber duckies

Zeugma as structural principle of the new nature writing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

The rhetorical device of zeugma, where one part of speech is used to yoke more than one other part of a sentence in a surprising and often ironically humorous way, can be seen as the governing figure, or the operative structural principle, of the new nature writing of the last decade or so. The new nature writing makes ironic use of the language of traditional nature writing in order to deflate the tradition's romantic and transcendental bent. We can see the tactic clearly in Robert Sullivan's Rats, which liberally borrows chapter titles and language from Thoreau's Walden, appropriating them in the service of celebrating not some pastoral ideal like Walden Pond but a rat-filled alley in New York City. Even as the tone shifts from spiritual reverence to comic irony, the tactic shifts our focus away from the tradition's emphasis on sacred and sublime landscapes and redirects our attention to what Scott Hess has called "everyday nature".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)284-295
Number of pages12
JournalProse Studies
Volume35
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013

Fingerprint

Rat
Rubber
Zeugma
Nature Writing
Language
Tactics
Rhetorical Devices
Part of Speech
Transcendental
Irony
Henry David Thoreau
Ideal
Nature
Reverence

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Literature and Literary Theory

Cite this

@article{f639661fec624008a3d194678ef774e5,
title = "Of rat waldens and quests for rubber duckies: Zeugma as structural principle of the new nature writing",
abstract = "The rhetorical device of zeugma, where one part of speech is used to yoke more than one other part of a sentence in a surprising and often ironically humorous way, can be seen as the governing figure, or the operative structural principle, of the new nature writing of the last decade or so. The new nature writing makes ironic use of the language of traditional nature writing in order to deflate the tradition's romantic and transcendental bent. We can see the tactic clearly in Robert Sullivan's Rats, which liberally borrows chapter titles and language from Thoreau's Walden, appropriating them in the service of celebrating not some pastoral ideal like Walden Pond but a rat-filled alley in New York City. Even as the tone shifts from spiritual reverence to comic irony, the tactic shifts our focus away from the tradition's emphasis on sacred and sublime landscapes and redirects our attention to what Scott Hess has called {"}everyday nature{"}.",
author = "Ian Marshall",
year = "2013",
month = "12",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1080/01440357.2013.878551",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "35",
pages = "284--295",
journal = "Prose Studies",
issn = "0144-0357",
publisher = "Taylor and Francis Ltd.",
number = "3",

}

Of rat waldens and quests for rubber duckies : Zeugma as structural principle of the new nature writing. / Marshall, Ian.

In: Prose Studies, Vol. 35, No. 3, 01.12.2013, p. 284-295.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Of rat waldens and quests for rubber duckies

T2 - Zeugma as structural principle of the new nature writing

AU - Marshall, Ian

PY - 2013/12/1

Y1 - 2013/12/1

N2 - The rhetorical device of zeugma, where one part of speech is used to yoke more than one other part of a sentence in a surprising and often ironically humorous way, can be seen as the governing figure, or the operative structural principle, of the new nature writing of the last decade or so. The new nature writing makes ironic use of the language of traditional nature writing in order to deflate the tradition's romantic and transcendental bent. We can see the tactic clearly in Robert Sullivan's Rats, which liberally borrows chapter titles and language from Thoreau's Walden, appropriating them in the service of celebrating not some pastoral ideal like Walden Pond but a rat-filled alley in New York City. Even as the tone shifts from spiritual reverence to comic irony, the tactic shifts our focus away from the tradition's emphasis on sacred and sublime landscapes and redirects our attention to what Scott Hess has called "everyday nature".

AB - The rhetorical device of zeugma, where one part of speech is used to yoke more than one other part of a sentence in a surprising and often ironically humorous way, can be seen as the governing figure, or the operative structural principle, of the new nature writing of the last decade or so. The new nature writing makes ironic use of the language of traditional nature writing in order to deflate the tradition's romantic and transcendental bent. We can see the tactic clearly in Robert Sullivan's Rats, which liberally borrows chapter titles and language from Thoreau's Walden, appropriating them in the service of celebrating not some pastoral ideal like Walden Pond but a rat-filled alley in New York City. Even as the tone shifts from spiritual reverence to comic irony, the tactic shifts our focus away from the tradition's emphasis on sacred and sublime landscapes and redirects our attention to what Scott Hess has called "everyday nature".

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84894207382&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84894207382&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1080/01440357.2013.878551

DO - 10.1080/01440357.2013.878551

M3 - Article

VL - 35

SP - 284

EP - 295

JO - Prose Studies

JF - Prose Studies

SN - 0144-0357

IS - 3

ER -