What is a diptych? A diptych is a painting on two panels, or an ancient writing tablet made of two hinged leaves. In both cases, it is a material object—possibly consisting of wood or canvas, and covered with pigments or wax—which discloses and articulates a “discursive” message. Whether an artwork on an altar, or a tablet in the hands of a scribe, the diptych exceeds its “merely” material dimension, and creates a double bridge of meanings between the “text” it conveys and the world in which it occurs.

In view of the increasing attention ecocritics are paying to the many ways material realities are enmeshed with meanings and narratives, our “diptych” provides an articulated vision about the key concepts of what...

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