Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Professor Ronald Granofsky
My dissertation examines the heretofore unexamined dovetailing of concerns and motifs found in environmental, science-fiction, romantic, and post-apocalyptic narratives. In particular, I focus upon contemporary renderings of architectural ruins, vegetation, children, and depopulated landscapes. These broadly romantic tropes of the nineteenth century, I argue, are reworked in post-World War II fictions and writings to yield now commonplace ecological and post-apocalyptic motifs. Typically, post-cataclysmic landscapes are endowed with a sometimes uncanny fecundity, which can signal both healthy, consoling growth and also the dominion of a toxic, "postnatural" nature that is working to rid itself of humans and human infrastructures. The narratives I examine are, then, often poised between affirming an optimistic humanism and, perhaps unwittingly, a more nihilistic ideology, one which in some versions values non-anthropocentric ecology over urbanism and human life. As such, many of the narratives I examine anticipate contemporary forms of radical environmentalism.
Lutz, Michael Dieter, "Apocalypse Then and Now: Contemporary Narratives of Environmental Extinction" (2001). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1018.