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Sign Systems Studies

Volume 29, Issue 1, 2001

Christina Ljungberg
Pages 169-185

Wilderness from an ecosemiotic perspective

"Wilderness" is a concept which has undergone a radical change in recent years. Owing to the scale of global destruction of the wilderness and its various ecosystems, the idea of wilderness has been transformed from its original negative sense as an Other into a matter of public concern. This as replaced the understanding of "wilderness " not only as a place but as a category closely linked with the development of buman culture. As the result of human practice and representation, nature is thus also political Models and concepts of nature in the creative arts can be indicative of a certain culture's relationship with nature, as they communicate prevailing ideologies. This is particularly pertinent to concepts of nature in Canada where wilderness includes vast tracts of forests, lakes and an Arctic North, which has led to a distinctively Canadian relationship between Canadians and their natural environment. The change in the literary representations of interactions between humankind and environment in Canadian fiction - from the "double vision" resulting from the view of the wilderness both as a threatening Other and free space; to the view of threatened nature as a means of identification; and, finally, as a post-modem place of transgression and possibility - invites questions about both the semiotic threshold between nature and culture, and about the function of boundaries in the constitution of identity.

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