C O M P A R AT I V E L I T E R AT U R E S T U D I E S Imagining Extinction is an eloquent text, remarkable in its cultural and geographic range, spirited in its polemics, and evincing Heise's peculiar gift for making objects and texts across the spectrum dazzle with equivalent interest. The book provides compelling templates for reading extinction narratives afresh across literature, cultural studies, and art history. Heise's incursions into conservation science, biodiversity law, environmental ethics, and animal studies set a high standard for a diversified conceptual architecture. In the smallest of details, such as her careful notation of species by vernacular names and Latin binomials--Irrawaddy dolphin, Orcaella brevirostris (187)--she underlines how scientific enterprises are entangled with cultural frameworks. If there are moments where the synthetic powers of the text falter and undercut its more hortatory vision, as I have suggested, they are perhaps best seen as indicators of the variety of problems it tackles. "Decisions about biodiversity," Heise writes, "are in the end questions about value, about cultural frameworks of thought, and about historical traditions of social practice" (233). Notoriously hard to quantify or value in economic
Comparative Literature Studies – Penn State University Press
Published: May 26, 2017
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