Professor Porter says it best when he writes, "But just like the New York factory worker who couldn't conceive of the majesty of the Sierra Nevada Mountains except through the evocative and poetic writings of John Muir, through the digital we have the capacity to experience natural worlds and places that we will never have the opportunity to visit in the material world."[1]

Definition of VirtualEdit

"The term “virtual” is now a fixture in our society and we tend to use it uncritically to describe everything from reality to friendship. We also tend to think of the virtual as a product of the digital, but that, of course, ignores the rich history of the term and the way humans have “virtualized” their world for centuries. Our old friend the OED tells us that the word “virtual” comes from the Latin word; which meant “excellence, potency, efficacy.” It is this notion of “efficacy” that the word has carried with it into our 21st century world. The OED goes on to define “virtual” as (among other things): “That is so in essence or effect, although not formally or actually; admitting of being called by the name so far as the effect or result is concerned.” So from this definition, first seen in the mid 17th century and pertaining to religion, we see that what constitutes the virtual is not necessarily a representation’s exact fidelity to the “real,” but rather the virtual’s ability to produce a like-effect when compared to the original."[2]

Examples of Virtualization:Edit


Sketch of Yosemite Valley by Thomas Ayers


Early photo of Yosemite Valley by Carleton E. Watkins

thumb|right|300px|Film of Yosemite National Park

Ecocriticism Edit

What is it? Edit

Ecocritism, according to Cheryll Glotfelty, is" the study of the relationship between literature and the {C

physical environment...ecocriticism takes an earth-centered approach to literary studies".[3] All Ecocriticism has the fundamental notion that human culture is connected to the physical world. As humans we both affect this physical world and are affected by it. Ecocriticism looks at the relationship between nature and culture; specifically literature and language.

Why is it important? Edit

Now that we know what ecocriticism is, we must understand why its important and what it has to do with virtual spaces. Who we are and how we define ourselves is tied to the spaces in which we inhabit and through spacial connotations. Because space is key in how we define oureselves, Glotfelty and other Ecocritics belives its important to study and peserve our "space" and the physical world. Ecocritics are interested in the physical world and how it is represented. Virtual Spaces is one way the physical world is represented, making it an important feild to study

Questions Ecocritics Might Ask [4]Edit

  • How is nature represented in poetry?
  • How do our metaphors of the land influence the way we treat it?
  • How can we characterize nature writing as a novel?thumb|300px|right|Interview on Ecocriticism
  • What role does the physical setting play in a novel?
  • In what ways has literacy itself affected humankinds relationship with to the natural world?

These questions might be used when analyzing fiction text such as "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley, to look at how spaces can affect the novel or characters.

Nature Writing [5]Edit

Nature writing, as defined by wikipedia is the nonfiction prose writing about the natural environment. Nature writing "often draws heavily on scientific information and facts about the natural world; at the same time, it is frequently written in the first person and incorporates personal observations of and philosophical reflections upon nature".

In "This Incomperable Land: A Book of American Nature Writing, Thomas Lyon suggests that nature writing encompasses a spectrum of different types of works, ranging from those that place primary emphasis on natural history facts (such as field guides) to those in which philosophical interpretations predominate. Some of the subcategories he identifies include natural history essays, rambles, essays of solitude or escape, and travel and adventure writing".

Modern nature writing traces its roots to the second half of the 18th century and throughout the 19th century. Some well-known pieces include works by Gilbert White, William Bartram, John James Audubon, Charles Darwin, Richard Jefferies. Other figures in the genre include Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Burroughs, John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, M. Krishnan, and Edward Abbey (although he rejected the term for himself).

Example of Nature Writing from Lecture: John Muir's "Yosemite Glaciers"Edit

This work by John Muir allowed for a link virtually between natural spaces in reagrd to Yosemite Valley. With his poetic use of language, he was able to write readership for those who would never be able to go to Yosemite due to the rescrictions of travel. He was able to gain a means of preserving this natural space by putting it into literary context.

Check out his work here: "Yosemite Glaciers""
Muir painting

Other Theory Pages Edit


Avatars and Digital Identity


Cyborgs and Gender



  1. "Virtual Space-Natural Space-Cyberspace"
  2. "Virtual Space-Natural Space-Cyberspace"
  3. "Intro to Ecocriticism" ENGL295
  4. "Engl295 Lecture" Porter Olsen's Lecture on Virtual Spaces