About Me

My name is Meghann Hillier-Broadley and my blog is a place to explore images and literature of the Anthropocene to promote discourse, engagement and reflections on the emerging narrative of this new geological epoch.

Why ‘the nook’?

The title of my blog is taken from a poem by William Wordsworth entitled ‘Nutting’.  Wordsworth writes ‘I came upon one dear nook//Unvisited’ describing an Edenic ‘nook’ where boughs of trees were weighed down with bountiful treasure of hazelnuts. The speaker confesses to dragging ‘to earth both branch and bough’ and feeling ‘rich beyond the wealth of kings’ at possessing the treasure belonging to nature.  It is with ‘a sense of pain’ however that the speaker looks at the ‘silent trees’ following the plunder of their wealth; guilt pervades the act of taking from nature and gazing upon the destruction left behind.

This act of destruction and desire to possess directed at the natural world, I believe is an appropriate image of the anthropocentric power dynamic at play within the environmental crisis known as the Anthropocene. Therefore, I wanted to write from ‘the nook’, to explore, examine, question and debate depictions of the Anthropocene to provoke thought before they become action.

What is the Anthropocene?

Most people have heard of the ‘Anthropocene’ even if they are unsure of what it means, so I wanted to give a very brief introduction for the uninitiated, always bearing in mind that this is an evolving picture with brand new information being published all the time, therefore I will at periods make appropriate amendments to reflect this ongoing narrative.

In 2000 the Nobel Prize winning chemist Paul J. Crutzen and the scientist Eugene F. Stoermer published an article in the IGBP(International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme) Newsletter entitled The “Anthropocene”; in the article they propose that the current era, known as the Holocene be replaced with the term Anthropocene.  They contend that throughout the Holocene human activities have grown into such a significant geological force it is logical and appropriate that the era should reflect this.

Crutzen identified three stages of the Anthropocene.  Stage 1 is considered to have begun during the latter part of the eighteenth-century, coinciding with James Watts invention of the steam engine.  Stage 2 is commonly referred to as the ‘Great Acceleration’ and covers the period from 1945-2015 and is considered to be the period in which humans have had the greatest impact on the earth.  Stage 3 is happening now – and is the time for reflection and action.

Suggested Reading

The Birth of the Anthropocene– Jeremy Davies

The Shock of the Anthropocene: The Earth, History and Us– Christophe Bonneuil & Jean-Baptiste Fressoz

Ecocriticism on the Edge – Timothy Clark

Searching for the Anthropocene – Christopher Schaberg