The Plastic Turn offers a novel way of looking at plastic as the defining material of our age and at the plasticity of plastic as an innovative means of understanding the arts and literature. Ranjan Ghosh terms this approach the material-aesthetic and, through this concept, traces the emergence and development of plastic polymers along the same historical trajectory as literary modernism. Plastic's growth as a product in the culture industry, its formation through multiple application and chemical syntheses, and its circulation via oceanic movements, Ghosh argues, correspond with, and offers novel insights into, developments in modernist literature and critical theory.
Through innovative readings of canonical modernist texts, analyses of art works, and accounts of plastic's devastating environmental impact, The Plastic Turn proposes plastic's unique properties and destructive ubiquity as a "theory machine" to explain literature and life in the Anthropocene. Introducing several new concepts (like plastic literature, plastic literary, etc.) into critical-humanist discourse, Ghosh enmeshes literature and theory, materiality and philosophy, history and ecology, to explore why plastic as a substance and as an idea intrigues, disturbs, and haunts us.
1. The Plastic Turn
2. Plastic Literary
3. Plastic Touch
4. Plastic Literature
5. Plastic Affect
Ranjan Ghosh teaches in the Department of English at the University of North Bengal. He is completing a trilogy on plastic. His second book on plastic, Plastic Figures, is forthcoming from Cornell University Press. Find him online at ranjanghosh.in.
Ghosh uses plastic metaphorically and in an innovative way to advance understanding of literature, art, and life in the present. In so doing, he develops a new material aesthetic, one that offers a new way to view history, ontology, and ecology as well as literature and the arts.
Ecocriticism's ongoing heterogenization mirrors broader strides in the environmental humanities, including advances in green postcolonial analysis, ice humanities, plant studies, waste studies, and related ecohumanistic domains. As a case in point, a significant contribution to ecocritical examinations of waste is Ranjan Ghosh's The Plastic Turn. Through a material-aesthetic optic, Ghosh genealogizes the impact of the plastic polymer on critical theory and literary modernism
~The Year's Work in Critical & Cultural Theory
An original and worthwhile reading experience for all those concerned with the humanities, the Anthropocene, the written word and the ecology of good and bad ideas. Ghosh's The Plastic Turn not only breaks the mold of literary criticism but asks others to refashion critical literature in elastic, versatile and plastic ways.
~LSE Review of Books