Overlayered ecologies: Posthumanist perception of place in literature of the US South

HOWARD, Christopher John (2023). Overlayered ecologies: Posthumanist perception of place in literature of the US South. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00576


The soil of the U.S. South, and its inhabitants’ connection to it, has long been considered a major factor in the creation of a uniquely southern identity. The primary aim of this thesis is to demonstrate that contemporary southern authors are starting to display a new understanding of place in which our connection to the world around us becomes an inextricable relationship rather than an emotional attachment. Authors are starting to depict a posthumanist perception of place. Although southern literature has started to receive a long-needed presence in ecocritical studies, the focus of much of the existing work centres upon the anthropogenic. The region’s position as an inherently connected space is rarely addressed. With explorations in the field of New Southern Studies deconstructing interpretations of the U.S. South as a unique region, I suggest that posthumanism’s questioning of exceptionalism has made it a useful tool to demonstrate the importance of viewing the region through a lens of coexistence rather than exceptionalism. By addressing depictions of ecologies in various twenty-first century texts from the region, I argue specifically that southern authors are depicting associations of inherent connectivity and relationality that force us to rethink the tenability of place as an originator of identity. Demonstrating how various depictions of what I term overlayered ecologies evince a new way of understanding the world we occupy, I aim for an understanding of how the U.S. South positions itself through new narratives. I argue that rather than displaying connectivity solely through historical or modern economic and cultural factors, the relationality observed in the contemporary fiction examined is an inherent part of assemblage existence. It is a connectivity that removes the human from its core. As such, the constancy that is so crucial to conceptions of place as originator of identity are undermined. This represents a turning point in the U.S. South’s understanding of itself.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Tarlo, Harriet [0000-0002-6626-8099] (Affiliation: Sheffield Hallam University)
Thesis advisor - Sanchez-Arce, Ana M [0000-0002-9311-2743]
Additional Information: Director of studies: Prof. Harriet Tarlo / Supervisor: Dr. Ana María Sánchez-Arce
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00576
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2024 15:04
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2024 02:00
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/33046

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