Date of Award
M.A. in English
Jay D. Watson
This Master’s thesis looks at three works of American literature from the 1970s—James Dickey’s Deliverance (1970), Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree (1979), and Leslie MarSilko’s Ceremony (1977)—with two primary research questions in mind: How do these novels act as responses to the politicization and globalization of the American environmental movement? and How do these novels depict psychological responses to ongoing environmental damage and destruction? This study is particularly interested in depictions of abjected environments inhabited by socially abjected people. Through investigations of ecohorror, ecotrauma, and ecomelancholy as manifested in aesthetic representations of abjected environments, I read these three environmentally aware texts as critiques of American consumerism, imperialism, and industrialism. Literary depictions of devastated, refuse-ridden landscapes inhabited by exploited and marginalized peoples complicate any understanding of the environmental movement as a biocentric deification of nature. These depictions ask us to practice environmentally-aware, ecocentric acts of viewing that illuminate both abjected peoples and the interpenetrability of individuals and their environment, raising questions of environmental ethics and justice. Additionally, by looking at psychological responses to abjected environments and ongoing environmental devastation, I hope to make evident the embodied and affective realities that we share with our environments.
Thomas, Andrew Timothy, "The Delicate Art of Being: Psychological Responses to Environmental Damage in American Fiction of the 1970s" (2015). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1177.