Enormous ecological losses and profound planetary transformations mean that ours is a time to grieve beyond the human. Yet, Joshua Trey Barnett argues in this eloquent and urgent book, our capacity to grieve for more-than-human others is neither natural nor inevitable. Weaving together personal narratives, theoretical meditations, and insightful readings of cultural artifacts, he suggests that ecological grief is best understood as a rhetorical achievement. As a collection of worldmaking practices, rhetoric makes things matter, bestows value, directs attention, generates knowledge, and foments feelings. By dwelling on three rhetorical practices—naming, archiving, and making visible—Barnett shows how they prepare us to grieve past, present, and future ecological losses. Simultaneously diagnostic and prescriptive, this book reveals rhetorical practices that set our ecological grief into motion and illuminates pathways to more connected, caring earthly coexistence.
“Anything written by Joshua Trey Barnett merits serious attention, but this book takes the prize so far. An earnest and empathic call to acknowledge and dwell with the sense of loss and grief born from our imperiled planet, this text is also a call to celebrate the wonders of earthly coexistence in all their complex specificity and nuance. With attentive senses and articulate sentences, Barnett gives us an ecological rhetoric worthy of our troubled times.”
—CHRIS INGRAHAM, associate professor of communication, University of Utah, and author of Gestures of Concern