Landscapes: the Journal of the International Centre for Landscape and Language


This article examines Wendell Berry’s short story collection, That Distant Land (2004) through the lens of the ecological chronotope. Berry’s characters cultivate an intimate relationship with their physical environment, and the land, in turn, inscribes their history within it. Furthermore, it is through a shared sense of responsibility to the land that the characters foster a sense of community, shared history, and timeless connection with each other. My analysis of Berry’s fiction employs the notion of the ecological chronotope as a lens for understanding the environmental implications encountered at the intersection between time and place in That Distant Land. Viewed from this perspective, we see how imaginative literature offers readers a model for developing an ethical, and sustainable, relationship with place. Berry’s fiction not only contains the histories of his fictional characters, but also extends itself to benefit both the readership and the environments we inhabit by instructing us in how to foster such a symbiotic relationship within our own lived spaces.

Author Biography

Ellen M. Bayer is Assistant Professor of American and Environmental Literature at the University of Washington Tacoma. Her curiosity about the intersections between aesthetics and the natural world, particularly the environmental impact of humans’ aesthetic preferences on the places we inhabit, drives her research interests. When she’s not working, you can find her running long distances in the Cascades Range of western Washington State.


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