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Name: Hollie Johnson
PhD: English Literature
Thesis Title: Ecodystopia: Environmental Apocalypse and the Ecocidal Imagination
My project aims to carry out an ecocritical re-evaluation of literary dystopias that tracks the role of environmental concerns within the development of the genre. In particular, my thesis focuses upon the recent environmental turn of dystopian novels after 1950, thereby moving away from reductively anthropocentric scholarly accounts of dystopia. Instead, my project engages with the ongoing discussions around nature and environment with the specific aim of clarifying what an ecocritical approach can bring to the understanding of recent dystopian fiction. In the course of this exploration I will also be challenging existing definitions of the dystopian genre in order to locate how specifically environmental disaster narratives are located within this genre, and also how they problematize it.
By engaging with both critical work on dystopia and the developing field of ecocritical theory, my thesis aims to provide a new, original direction between these two fields. Ecocriticism is a relatively new theoretical area and critics continue to disagree strongly over its definition and aims. Equally, critics of literary dystopias continue to debate the characteristics and development of the genre. Indeed, the emergence of ‘eco-dystopias’ has further complicated such discussions. Despite the abundant recent critical attention surrounding both these areas, the intersection between them has received little attention, therefore my project addresses the lack of dialogue between these fields.
Supervisors and Institution(s): Dr Nathan Waddell (University of Nottingham), Prof Dominic Head (University of Nottingham)
Publications (please include full details with page nos. or web links):
Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:
- Since my MA, I have been a part of the University of Nottingham's Landscape, Space, and Place Research Group - an interdisciplinary project which explores the differing conceptions of spaces and landscape. In 2014, I joined the LSP Committee, and in 2015 became one of the groups leading coordinators.
- Last year I was a member of the organizing committee for LINK 15. LINK is an interdisciplinary conference that aims to bring the University of Nottingham’s postgraduate students together. Focusing on the University’s own research themes, LINK ‘15 is an opportunity for both masters and research students to meet fellow postgrads from all over the University, forging new research links across schools and departments and offering a creative environment for research exchange.
- September 2014 I joined the University of Nottingham's Sustainability Research Network, and in October I became a committee member. The SRN is an interdisciplinary initiative which aims to engage with and promote ideas of sustainability, asking questions such as what is the value of nature?
Other Research Interests:
- Posthumanism - My Masters dissertation focused on posthumanist theory and twenty-first century human identity within Margaret Atwood's MaddAddam trilogy. Posthumanism feeds into ecocritical arguments and questions of sustainability by exploring how the ways in which we conceptualise human identity and singularity directly affects how we conceive of the wider environment around us.
- Postmodernism - One approach in trying to establish a consistent practice of ecocritical theory has been to examine its relation to pre-existing theoretical thought, postmodernism in particular. Indeed, ecocriticism tensions and similarities with postmodern theory have been a central aspect of discussion and so an engagement with the implications of postmodernism will be essential in establishing a more concrete definition of ecocritical theory.
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