Adventures in Habitat: An Urban Tale


In Adventures in Habitat: An Urban Rat's Tale, through the ecological and literary examination of the Norway rat, I explore the development of an ecological literacy in urban environments. By attending to how other organisms function in and sensorily engage with a territory is a potential means to understand what it means to be human and find more sustainable ways of reinhabitation. As we are creatures who tend to live in excess of our environments’ carrying capacity, I query Neil Evernden's belief that through comparison with how another creature senses place in our shared environment we may realize through pushing beyond our imaginative limitations to understand our limits. I explore how this may be possible in cities where constant disruption desensitizes human attention to urban biodiversity. This essay emerges from Laurie Ricou's habitat studies pedagogy and methodology: a deep mapping of bioregion through a particular species within a particular bioregion. My article places the Norway rat historically in its wider global historical and environmental contexts but settles the rodent in a specific locale: Vancouver, British Columbia. As such, the piece's form follows a braided essay format and incorporates a blending of experiential and scholarly engagement.

This article “Adventures in Habitat: An Urban Tale” originally appeared in Of Borders and Bioregions. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 218 (Autumn 2013): 67-84.

Please note that works on the Canadian Literature website may not be the final versions as they appear in the journal, as additional editing may take place between the web and print versions. If you are quoting reviews, articles, and/or poems from the Canadian Literature website, please indicate the date of access.