Ecology and the Arts

By Jan Curtis.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The word ecology is rooted in the Greek word for house: oikos. Ecology is the study of our house, our dwelling place. The arts tell us about ourselves and our
relationship to our living habitation: nature. The inner life of a community finds visible form in literature, theatre, music and the visual arts. As an expression of cultural imagination, the arts are not merely a print-out of a community’s relationship to nature but its potential for renewal and transformation. My premise is that the arts, and creative effort itself, share a common capacity for transformation which depends on an equally important
capacity for listening and attending to our surroundings. As a professor of English, I have initiated a number of inter-disciplinary projects that relate these capacities to matters of ecological health in the community. The arts
require the discipline of attention and observation that open the way to transformation and renewal. I engage tales from Irish and Greek mythology together with James Lovelock’s Gaia theory and the deep ecology of Arne Naess
to guide my search for a meeting place between the arts and matters of ecological consequence.

Keywords: Arts, Ecology, Attention, Transformation

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp.277-286. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 715.909KB).

Dr. Jan Curtis

Associate Professor of English, Department of Languages and Letters, Cape Breton University, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada

I have been teaching Modern British and Irish Literature at Cape Breton University since 1990. Other interests evolved from these areas: for example, classical mythology in Modern Literature as well as Celtic mythology. I am particularly drawn to Yeats and Seamus Heaney. I attend the International Irish Summer Schools as often as I can. In the last five years I have been exploring connections between the Arts and ecology and have initiated a number of projects that involve collaborations with artists, teachers, academics, and ecologists. In the next few years I would like to develop a new course on Literature and Ecology, and take it out of the classroom whenever possible. At the moment I am working on an essay on Seamus Heaney and the creative process as it is dramatized in the myth of Orpheus. I am also a devoted beach-comber.


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