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Reading: Reading Richard Powers' The Overstory: ‘treeing’ the issue of interdisciplinary knowledge

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Reading Richard Powers' The Overstory: ‘treeing’ the issue of interdisciplinary knowledge

Authors:

Lisanne Meinen ,

Utrecht University, NL
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Kaixuan Yao,

Utrecht University, NL
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Karlijn Herforth

Utrecht University, NL
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Abstract

This essay argues that Richard Powers’ The Overstory is an example of how literature, as a narrative that is both reflective and focused on representation, contributes to current circulating debates surrounding the valorisation, productivity and practicality of interdisciplinary knowledge. This essay reads Powers’ novel against the tendency within our society to value literature only on the basis of individual artistic accomplishments. This tendency establishes a boundary between art and science and excludes literature from the realm of a ‘problem-solving’ practicality (Clark 190). As our analysis shows, the novel reflects on the impact and value of interdisciplinary knowledge by presenting a narrative that traces the production and reception of a interdisciplinary work. Additionally, the novel endows the debate about interdisciplinary knowledge with a new light by ‘treeing’ its narrative in both its narratological form and thematic content. It listens to the message of trees as lives mediating between multiple spatial-temporal scales and frames the characters’ sensitivity to this message as a scale awareness. Finally, the interdisciplinary conflicts are read as scale conflicts which the characters in the novel encounter when they try to provide solution to the issue of deforestation.
How to Cite: Meinen, L., Yao, K. and Herforth, K., 2019. Reading Richard Powers' The Overstory: ‘treeing’ the issue of interdisciplinary knowledge. Junctions: Graduate Journal of the Humanities, 4(2), pp.40–50. DOI: http://doi.org/10.33391/jgjh.59
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Published on 01 Oct 2019.
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