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Touching Things

Touching Things

“Nutting” and the Standing of Trees

Chapter 3 (p.61) Touching Things
Romantic Things
Mary Jacobus
University of Chicago Press

This chapter reflects the history of the environmental movement through the examination of poems such as Wordsworth’s “Nutting,” which involves an act of intrusive injury against nut trees. It reflects the going green of romantic literary criticism, due partly to Christopher Stone’s article “Should Trees Have Standing? Towards Legal Rights for Natural Objects.” The defending of the legal rights of trees also creates questions regarding the legal rights of inanimate things. The chapter explores ways of thinking about what objects do and do not have “sense,” suggesting that the subjective experience of humans may be equally unrecognizable. In Stone’s proposal, it is stated, for example, that trees cannot speak for themselves, and thus require guardians to bring cases for them. This, as a whole, gives thought to the giving up of homocentric ideas about what natural objects can and cannot sense or experience, as well as to childhood anthropomorphism.

Keywords:   environmental movement, Nutting, Wordsworth, romantic literary criticism, Christopher Stone, rights of trees, inanimate things, homocentric ideas, childhood anthropomorphism

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