Date of Award

5-2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

English

Advisor

Bushnell, Cameron

Committee Member

McGrath , Brian

Committee Member

Morey , Sean

Abstract

In recognizing that the human relationship to the nonhuman natural world has been characterized primarily by trauma, we might notice that humans abuse landscapes and deplete resources, harming the very ecosystems that support us, moving on when they no longer can or using technology in order to remain. This might be seen as a double trauma in which the human traumatizes ecosystems, which are then traumatic to the human. Our unwillingness as a culture to consider the nonhuman natural world as a valuable subject capable of experiencing trauma prevents us from understanding the repercussions of our actions. Spivak's theory offers a possible solution: we should enter into a relationship of ethical singularity with the earth in which we accept that we are indelibly part of the ecosystem ourselves and that we must attempt to understand as much of what the natural world expresses as possible, even though we can never fully comprehend what we see.
Representation through literature provides access to ecological trauma, especially its hidden elements, through the analogy of ecological to human trauma. The two novels I address, the bone people and Mr. Pip, both geographically set in the South Pacific, approach understanding of the nonhuman natural world in very different ways, but both use human trauma to mediate ecological trauma, making it accessible to readers.

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