Davies, “Sustainable Nostalgia” (262-268)

Featured Image: Arches National Park


Keep the following questions in mind as you read Davies, “Sustainable Nostalgia” (262-268). The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.

What is “sustainability”?

How has the term “sustainability” transformed since the 1970’s?

What does “sustainability” mean according to Davies?

What are some of its complexities, or rather what accounts for the term’s “political attractiveness” (262)?

What does he mean by “category error” (262)?

How does the Brundtland report define sustainability? Why do you think that definition has been so influential? What sorts of divisions does that definition imply between, for instance, present and future generations?

What does Davies mean when he says that sustainability, “subordinates change to itself” (263)? What does it mean that sustainability, “saturates the future with the present” (263)?

What are some problems with sustainability OR what are some results of the ways that sustainability produces temporalities?

How does sustainability respond to the threat of apocalypse?

Why have some members of the environmental movement called for the term “sustainability” to be recalled or replaced? Why does Davies disagree with such a call? Or, what “ethical advantages” does Davies see in living with sustainability as a goal?

Why is the quest for sustainability a kind-of “memory work”?

What does Davies mean when he says that the dream of sustainability synonymous with a nostalgia for the future?

How/why does sustainability posit our present as satisfactory and also a satisfactory point of origin?

What does he mean when he says, “For now, though, we in the present must look to the future, because it is in the future that the present will be inhabited as our home” (264)?

According to Davies, why must ecocriticism not “keep nostalgia at a safe distance” (265)? OR, “The question is not ‘how can ecological writing exploit nostalgia?’ but ‘how must ecotheory reflect upon and negotiate its own ineliminable, motivating desire for the coincidence of self and  dwelling place’” (264)?