Co-Authored Article: “‘Arabesque Grotesque’: Toward a Theory of Dada Ecopoetics”

Published by Oxford University Press journal, Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment (ISLE), Dr Wrighton’s latest article is co-authored with world-leading scholar, Tier One Canada Research Chair, Professor Irene Gammel.


hile modernism and its avant-garde are often excluded from studies of environmental or ecological concerns, associated mostly with modern technologies, urban life, and expanding media, this essay in contrast proposes that the arc that culminates in postmodern ecopoetics extends backwards to WWI-era Dada ecology. Using as a case study the body poetics of German-born New York Dada poet Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, this study advances a theory of Dada ecopoetics, exploring a number of crucial themes such as a radical dismantling of nature/city boundaries; a desublimated trash aesthetic; a multi-sensorial immersive perspective; an anti-pastoral aesthetic; and ultimately, a radical ecopoetic liminality.

Trash aesthetic

Journal: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISLE website


DR IRENE GAMMEL holds a Canada Research Chair in Modern Literature and Culture at Ryerson University in Toronto, where she is Professor of English and directs the Modern Literature and Culture (MLC) Research Centre. She is the author of many scholarly articles devoted to gender, modernism, the avant-garde, and landscape aesthetics. Her books include Baroness Elsa: Gender, Dada, and Everyday Modernity. A Cultural Biography (MIT Press, 2002), Looking for Anne of Green Gables (St. Martin’s Press, 2008), and Body Sweats: The Uncensored Writings of Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (MIT Press, 2011).

 DR JOHN WRIGHTON is Head of Subject, English Literature, and Senior Lecturer in English Literature, in the Faculty of Arts, University of Brighton. He was recently seconded to the Modern Literature and Culture (MLC) Research Centre, Ryerson University, Toronto, as International Research Fellow, 2011-13. With a PhD in English from Aberystwyth University in 2009, he is the author of scholarly articles devoted to literary ethics, ecocriticism, Dada, avant-garde, and modernist poetry. He is author of Ethics and Politics in Modern American Poetry (Routledge, 2010).