Date of Award

5-4-2020

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Randy Malamud

Second Advisor

Jay Rajiva

Third Advisor

Marilynn Richtarik

Abstract

My dissertation identifies and compares the literary techniques that form narratives of environmentalism in Global Anglophone Literature, ecocriticism, environmental science, and environmental policy in the twentieth and the twenty-first century. I analyze the environmentalism afforded by these techniques in terms of their inclusivity and accessibility to a planetary democratic public using a method of critical analysis that is informed by postcolonial, ecocritical, queer, critical race, and democratic theorists. Due to the global, intersectional, coalitional, and democratic requirements of environmental justice, I selected literary texts to include as much of the planet as possible and to exclude texts with explicit environmentalist commitments. In order to address concern about participatory parity among diverse stakeholders, I examined the environmental conversations that emerged between works by marginalized authors and more canonical literary texts. Each chapter considers the potential formation of environmental coalitions in the absence of critical precedent or common ground by grouping texts around a shared stake in a particular narrative form of environmentalism, environmental justice, and fictional literature: development, restoration, conservation, and preservation. I connect each form to distinct literary techniques and elaborate how these techniques organize reader interactions with environmentalism relative to historical, cultural, environmental, and scientific contexts. Each chapter evaluates different scales of environmental politics in the narratives based on the extent to which the narratives support the participation of individuals, groups, ecosystems, communities, nations and the planet in imagining environmentalism. I evaluate these imaginative spaces in terms of their accessibility as a site of political deliberation, their inclusion of relevant stakeholders, their conductivity to critical engagement, and their creation of parity among participants. My readings offer insight into participation as a concern of postcolonial and political ecocriticism. This dissertation provides evidence that the shared imaginative spaces engendered in novels and public art serve an ethical role in creating cultural conditions necessary for planetary democratic practices that pursue environmental justice.

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