Georgic Gothic: EcoGothic, Antipastoral and Global Horror

By Isabelle Murray

Essay collection proposed for International Gothic Series, Manchester University Press.

In their most recent overview of ecoGothic research, William Hughes and Andrew Smith note the prevalence of ‘intersecting and fruitful links between animals, plants, and food’ and that ‘Gothic engagements with food have become a significant area of investigation’ in recent studies. Agriculture is also filled with risk, personal and existential. Tales of horror arise from fear of nonhuman nature overpowering the human. These fears collide at the agricultural interface – the field, the wood, the cow.

EcoGothic can provide ways of questioning assumptions about human actions and lifestyles, even when they appear positive, and this interrogation can help to change the relationships between human, nonhuman, or more than human Others. Climate breakdown increases pressure on farmers, especially those striving for some alleviation through agriculture itself.

Environmental studies have recently come to revisit the georgic mode, by which agriculture and its labour can be depicted. In Virgil’s long poem, the Georgics, there is an insistent recognition that farm labour is ‘relentless’, often with meagre reward, and that both practice and politics of land ownership can be dangerous. However, Virgil also detailed the intimate, reciprocal relationship with nonhuman, and how hope …read more