Books et al.Environmental Studies

The work of words in the Anthropocene

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Science  18 Oct 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6463, pp. 313
DOI: 10.1126/science.aay3845

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Summary

The books reviewed herein come from an arts and humanities tradition that worries at how we make sense of ourselves, the world, and our place within it—concerned that such contemplations are always partial, relational, and unfinished. An Ecotopian Lexicon—"ecotopian" meaning out of place—offers a fascinating collection of non-English or newly invented words that impart something of the complexities of everyday life in an era of warming skies and oceans, mass degradation, precarity, and insecurity, each of which also helps map a possible future. The words of Extinction Events, although similarly situated in "endings," do a different kind of work, evoking a planetary history that winds its way tightly into the lives of fictional women who face unsettling losses— from the disappearance of islands to the erosion of marital bonds.

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