The continuous flight from wonder : an ecocritical analysis of the tensions between natural history and modern science in Andrea Barrett's fiction ; How muskrat made the world and other stories
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This thesis comprises a critical component, The Continuous Flight From Wonder: An Ecocritical Analysis of Tensions Between Natural History and Modern Science in Andrea Barrett’s Fiction, and a creative component, How Muskrat Made the World and Other Stories. These two pieces are connected by their common theme of characters defining their place in the world through their relationship with nature. More specifically, both seek to explore how knowledge of and interactions with the nonhuman natural world play a role in the characters’ view of self. The critical component looks at the way in which the tension between natural history and modern science in Barrett’s work affects the characters’ troubled relationship with nature as they conceive it. The body of this piece is divided into four chapters, each corresponding to a recurring character archetype: The Naturalist, The Explorer, The Immigrant, and The Female Scientist. By analyzing the ways in which the restriction of these archetypes affect the characters’ relationship with the natural world, I will show that Barrett’s work provides a wealth of material for ecocritical analysis and should be considered alongside other works of ecocritical fiction. The creative component consists of seven short stories linked by the presence of human/animal interactions in each one and loosely by place. The characters in these eight stories try to make sense of the world through their relationship with animals. Sometimes this knowledge of animals comes through myth, science, and, most frequently, through domestic familiarity. The mirror that animal interactions holds up to the human characters often illuminates flaws and strengths, but inevitably defines what it is that makes them human by highlighting their affinity or aversion to the nonhuman natural world.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2020-06-01
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 1st June 2020.
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