9781479810765: Hardback
Release Date: 19th November 2019

9781479891313: Paperback
Release Date: 19th November 2019

10 black and white illustrations

Dimensions: 152.4 x 228.6

Number of Pages: 368

Series Religion and Social Transformation

NYU Press


Green Media and the Dilemma of Environmental Virtue

Hardback / £77.00
Paperback / £24.99

Tackles a human problem we all share―the fate of the earth and our role in its future

Confident that your personal good deeds of environmental virtue will save the earth? The stories we encounter about the environment in popular culture too often promote an imagined moral economy, assuring us that tiny acts of voluntary personal piety, such as recycling a coffee cup, or purchasing green consumer items, can offset our destructive habits. No need to make any fundamental structural changes. The trick is simply for the consumer to buy the right things and shop our way to a greener future.

It’s time for a reality check. Ecopiety offers an absorbing examination of the intersections of environmental sensibilities, contemporary expressions of piety and devotion, and American popular culture. Ranging from portrayals of environmental sin and virtue such as the eco-pious depiction of Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey, to the green capitalism found in the world of mobile-device “carbon sin-tracking” software applications, to the socially conscious vegetarian vampires in True Blood, the volume illuminates the work pop culture performs as both a mirror and an engine for the greening of American spiritual and ethical commitments.

Taylor makes the case that it is not through a framework of grim duty or obligation, but through one of play and delight, that we may move environmental ideals into substantive action.

Sarah McFarland Taylor is Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies and in the Program in Environmental Policy and Culture at Northwestern University. She is the award-winning author of Green Sisters: A Spiritual Ecology.

By showing the deeper-than-acknowledged impact of pop culture on people’s beliefs about environmental issues, Taylor’s thoughtful treatise offers hope that effective storytelling can play a role in meaningfully addressing catastrophic climate change.

Publishers Weekly

This book could not come at a more urgent time; as the costs of human life and consumerism become clearer in the environmental crises of the planet, MacFarland-Taylor offers us a brilliant, compelling analysis of how discourses of virtue are used to re-direct the global climate crisis from a collective politics to the choices of individual consumers. The book explores green consumer marketing in the frame of ecopiety by examining a variety of practices, from cars to reality television to mediated popular cultural narratives about vampires to green burials, and in the process offers not only a trenchant critique but also possible alternatives to individualist consumption as a way to virtuously “save the planet.”

Sarah Banet-Weiser, London School of Economics and author of Empowered: Popular Feminism and Popular Misogyny

Wow! It is rare that one has the chance to preview a work which displays this level of intellectual virtuosity. Taylors work occupies an important intersection between religious studies and media/cultural studies. . . . An amazing book, which is going to generate lots of interest.

Henry Jenkins,Author of Convergence Culture

Demonstrates the power of myths of individual moral and social power while teasing out the way resistance and counter readings of dominant narratives are possible in the interactive media world made possible by digital communications.... An important argument that adds to our understanding of environmental issues and lifestyle politics.

Jeffrey Mahan,Iliff School of Theology