Kenneth E. Hada East Central University, Oklahoma
Kenneth E. Hada, Professor, Department of English and Languages, East Central University, Oklahoma where he teaches twentieth-century American literatures and humanities-based courses. His scholarly interests include regionalism, literary ecology, and twentieth-century authors. He served eight years as chair of the Literature and the Environment section of the Southwest Popular Culture Association. Many of his scholarly interests concerning sustainability and human participation with landscape and nonhuman nature combine with his poetry. Author of eight collections of poetry, his work has been awarded and recognized by a variety of sources. He also directs the annual Scissortail Creative Writing Festival at ECU, featuring authors from across the country. From his rural home in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma, he offers a weekly podcast – “The Sunday Poems” (additional information available at kenhada.org).
Reading William Faulkner’s “The Bear” with a literary ecologist perspective could shift readers from abstraction to ethical responsibility. Deep ecology, ecopsychology, and constructionist views of human development align with ethical criticism and ecocriticism to establish the basis for what Freya Mathews refers to as the “Ecological Self.” Mathews joins others in noting that human development must become ecologically self-aware—a state engendering emotional, ethical responses, confirming wholeness and sustainability rather than mere intellectual, theoretical acknowledgment, or worse, pathological denial. Literary ecology joins textual analysis and meta-textual information to affirm the story’s implied stewardship, despite Faulkner’s sometimes unclear, tragic view of his landscape. An optimistic ecocritical reading affirms, or surpasses, various critical approaches often used with the story—in particular, the paradise myth. Reading ecocritically affirms individual health and sustainability with human culture and nonhuman nature. (KH)