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Title: Activism Ltd : environmental activism and contemporary literature
Author: Maughan, Christopher
ISNI:       0000 0004 5922 3479
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis examines representations of environmental activism in contemporary literature. In general terms, this thesis understands activism to be a mode of politics that seeks to transform society, counter to forces of oppression and crisis. Precisely as a transformative or counter-hegemonic mode of politics, the actions, public perceptions, and representations (literary or otherwise) of activism and social movements mark out an extreme – though rarely understood – horizon of political agency and possibility. The thesis uses and adapts Fredric Jameson’s theory of the political unconscious to explore, via literary representation, the prospects, constraints, and capacities which exist in contemporary forms of environmental activism. It begins by considering novelistic representations of climate change that display a tension between ‘fast-violent’ and gradual or historically-embedded forms of environmental change. The thesis then moves on to consider novelistic fiction that displays evidence of the intertwining of environmental crises and neoliberal governmentalities. A later chapter turns to a more specific site of resistance – food production – examining novelistic fiction that not only thematises the emergence of particular forms of resistance, but also aesthetically and formally registers agroecological theory and practice. The final chapter moves away from fictive writing and investigates the ways in which literary non-fiction presents a new kind of critical problem regarding the accuracy of its representations of activism; namely, the tensions which emerge between realist and speculative registers. To date, there has been a relative lack of attention paid to representations of activism in environmental literary and cultural criticism. A critical study of the cultural representation of environmental social movements will, I argue, yield valuable insights into how environmental problems are articulated and the forms of activism in use today, along with the contradictions, tensions – and even unintended harmonies – between environmentalism and mainstream political and economic trends.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: GE Environmental Sciences ; PN Literature (General)