Honors Theses

Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Department

English

First Advisor

Kate Lechler

Relational Format

Dissertation/Thesis

Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to explore the relationships between humans and their environments in Jeff VanderMeer’s The Southern Reach series. VanderMeer, throughout the trilogy, uses the horror aesthetics of the New Weird genre to break down the barriers between human and nonhuman, natural and unnatural. By showing the characters as more aware of their status as human and the agency of the natural world around them as a result of the novels’ plot, The Southern Reach forces characters and readers alike to confront a world in which becoming something more than human might be possible and even necessary for survival. I argue that VanderMeer’s use of this posthumanist rhetoric in his novels makes for a larger commentary around environmentalism, the status of the “human,” and environmentalism in our own world today.

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