Alexander Wilson: The Natural Historian as Environmental Advocate

By Li-Ru Lu.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In this study, I argue that the environmental advocacy of Alexander Wilson (1766-1813), a natural historian in early America, was primarily responsible for introducing a humbler, less purely anthropocentric, somewhat more bio-centric ethic to the American public of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I am most interested in Wilson’s role of that I call “environmental advocate,” a nature writer who shows his admiration for the natural world and advocates the protection of nature. Most of this study is devoted towards examining how Wilson in his natural history writings introduces many proto-ecological ideas, advocates the conservation of nature to the public, and thereby initiates a more ethical relationship between humanity and the rest of the biotic community.

Keywords: Alexander Wilson, Natural Historian, Environmental Advocacy, Ecological Thinking, American Ornithology, The Forester, Poems: By Alexander Wilson

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 7, pp.113-124. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 724.221KB).

Li-Ru Lu

Associate Professor, The Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and the Graduate Institute of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Huafan University, Xin Dian City, Taipei County, Taiwan

I come from Taipei, Taiwan. Majoring in English and American Literatures, I obtained my doctorate degree in national Taiwan University. My Research interests are early American environmental writings and ecological criticism. Currently, I am a full-time associate professor in Huafan University. I wrote a book entitled “Writing the Wilderness Environment: The Discourse of Wilderness Preservation in the Texts of American Environmental Writers”(published by Bookman Publishing Company in 2005)and sixteenth journal papers, such as “Hector St. John de Crevecoeur as Early American Natural History Writer”(published by a journal entitled ‘Tamkang Review’ in 2007), “The Burgeoning of American National Parks: The Creation of a Tradition of Environmental Concern and the Construction of National Culture in Early American Natural History Writings,”(published by ‘Languages, Literary Studies and International Studies: An International Journal’ in 2006 ), “Constructing National Subjectivity: the Preservation of Wilderness Environment and the Construction of National Identity in the Writings of John James Audubon”(published by ‘Huafan Journal of Humanities’ in 2006),”William Cullen Bryant as Early American Environmental Writer” (published by a journal entitled ‘Humanitas Taiwanica’ in 2005), “The Contradictory and Controversial Qualities in the Notion of National Park: the Development of National Park Idea in American Cultural History” (published by ‘Chung Wai Literary Monthly’ in 2005),”The ‘Invention’ of National Park in America: The American Wilderness, Nationalism, and Imperialism” (published by ‘Huafan Journal of Humanities’ in 2005), “Toward American National Literature: Walt Whitman’s Establishment of New Poetics and National Identity in ‘Leaves of Grass’ (published by ‘Soochow Journal of Foreign Languages and Cultures’ in 2004), and so forth.


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