Unnatural History: Ecological Temporality in Post-1945 American Literature


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




Arguing that post-1945 American literature is preoccupied with an understanding of natural history as cyclical, deep, and slow, this project examines literary narrations of contact and conflict between natural and human history. The dissertation suggests that novels address both ecological and political issues through the use of formal and rhetorical strategies that commingle natural and human time. As such, these texts reclaim “natural” temporality as both motivation and method for social and environmental activism. The project revises the spatial emphasis within environmental literary studies, reveals latent environmental critiques in novels not previously understood as being concerned with nonhuman nature, and demonstrates literature’s utility in responding to anthropogenic climate change and the challenges—both material and ideological—that it poses to human history.