Habitation: Exploring the narrative construction of character and environment from an ecofeminist perspective
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This dissertation, a 9500 word creative portfolio accompanied by a 7000 word critical reflection, emerges from an interest in the interpenetration of ecology and feminism in literature. The fictional narrative, Habitation, is intended as the opening of a novel and recounts a single day in the life of a girl growing up in a rural, male-dominated environment in the future. Written from her perspective, it depicts a world where climate change is dramatically affecting not only her isolated island existence, but the structure and behaviour of society itself. It focuses on her intimate experiences of the natural surroundings to explore its primary theme of the relationship between humans and nonhuman nature. The critical commentary utilises the theoretical framework of ecofeminism as a tool for textual analysis to reflect on the narrative construction of character and environment. It demonstrates how the choices I made as a writer regarding these two areas contribute to the aim of reconceptualising the connection between the body and nature, whilst illustrating how my intentions overlap with those of the ecofeminist movement. It also incorporates the philosophies of corporeal feminism to strengthen a reflection on the way the body is narrated through Habitation, and to contextualise this dissertation amongst a current wave of feminist discourse that overlaps with environmental theory to re-evaluate conceptions of materiality. Its contribution to the chosen field of research is demonstrated through a reflection on the outcomes of my creative practice. Research into theory is synthesised with readings from relevant fictional texts by female authors similarly interested in writing about nature, and the body in nature. This begins with Rachel Carson, but mainly includes contemporary, Anglo-American writers such as Susan Griffin and Ursula Le Guin, amongst others. Drawing upon these works illuminates parallels they share with Habitation to further contextualise the piece.
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