The arid American Southwest is host to numerous organisms described as desert-loving, or xerophilous. Extending this term to include the region's writers and the works that mirror their love of desert places, Tom Lynch presents the first systematically ecocritical study of its multicultural literature.
By revaluing nature and by shifting literary analysis from an anthropocentric focus to an ecocentric one, Xerophilia demonstrates how a bioregional orientation opens new ways of thinking about the relationship between literature and place. Applying such diverse approaches as environmental justice theory, phenomenology, border studies, ethnography, entomology, conservation biology, environmental history, and ecoaesthetics, Lynch demonstrates how a rooted literature can be symbiotic with the world that enables and sustains it. Analyzing works in a variety of genres by writers such as Leslie Marmon Silko, Terry Tempest Williams, Edward Abbey, Ray Gonzales, Charles Bowden, Susan Tweit, Gary Paul Nabhan, Pat Mora, Ann Zwinger, and Janice Emily Bowers, this study reveals how southwestern writers, in their powerful role as community storytellers, contribute to a sustainable bioregional culture that persuades inhabitants to live imaginatively, intellectually, and morally in the arid bioregions of the American Southwest.
Tom Lynch is associate professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he teaches ecocriticism and place -conscious literature. Currently co-editing a collection of scholarly writings about Loren Eiseley and a collection of bioregional literary criticism, he is also engaged in a comparative study of the literature of the American West and the Australian Outback from ecocritical and postcolonial perspectives.
Scott Slovic, founding president of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, is professor of literature and environment at the University of Nevada, Reno, and is author, editor, or co-editor for fifteen books, He lives in Reno, Nevada.