Publication Date

Fall 2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English and Comparative Literature

Advisor

Noelle Brada-Williams

Keywords

Barbara Kingsolver, deconstruction, ecofeminism, Jane Smiley, patriarchy, posthumanism

Subject Areas

English literature; Environmental philosophy; American literature

Abstract

Although many scholarly articles have provided ecofeminist insights and

critiques of A Thousand Acres that connect the abuse of women to the abuse of the land, few have dealt specifically with the link between the treatment of women and the treatment of nonhuman animals. In the first chapter of this paper, I argue that associations between women and nonhuman animals in A Thousand Acres sustain the constructed reality of patriarchal communities. Similarly, Prodigal Summer’s narratives center around females and nonhuman animals, but also provide a broader focus that emphasizes the interconnectivity of the entire biotic pyramid and optimistically holds that education, empathy, and a collective ecological conscience can reweave a balanced web of life. Thus, Prodigal Summer lends itself to a more expansive posthumanist critique, which offers an overarching perspective on the intersectionality of all things while warning against the human propensity to view themselves as closed systems. Therefore, in the second chapter of this paper, I argue that Barbara Kingsolver uses the three prominent female characters of the novel (Deanna, Lusa, and Nannie) to educate both their own social circles as well as Kingsolver’s readership about the importance of balance within the biotic pyramid.

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