Change search
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf
Margaret Atwood's Environmentalism: Apocalypse and Satire in the MaddAddam Trilogy
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies (from 2013).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0126-5655
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study considers the way in which Margaret Atwood’s post-apocalyptic MaddAddam Trilogy functions as an environmental project. The main focus is on how the three novels, Oryx and Crake (2003), The Year of the Flood (2009), and MaddAddam (2013), simultaneously draw on and destabilise the apocalypticism inherent in so much environmental discourse, primarily through the use of satire. The trilogy is securely anchored in the concerns of contemporary readers, and transposition of the action to the near future is integral to Atwood’s environmental project: attention is focussed on the present causes of anticipated environmental catastrophe, which readers implicitly are implored to avoid. Atwood’s environmentalism is performed in the interplay between her literary stature, the equivocal content of her work, and the irreverence with which she metaleptically blurs distinctions between fact and fiction, art and commodity, and activism and aesthetics. Whereas the satiric mode serves as a way of avoiding some of the limitations of apocalyptic thinking by maintaining and even creating complexity, it also renders the entire project ambiguous. Uncertainty about the exact environmental injunction presented in the trilogy creates doubts about the degree to which Atwood’s extradiegetic environmental activism should be taken seriously, or conversely. Storytelling is foregrounded in all three novels, and through its concurrent critique of and reliance on market forces and the political potential of art, the MaddAddam Trilogy demonstrates that there is no external position from which the imagination can perform environmentalist miracles. As such, Atwood’s environmental project furthers a profoundly ecological understanding of the world.

Abstract [en]

Margaret Atwood routinely eludes her readers, and the MaddAddam Trilogy is no exception. These three novels, Oryx and Crake (2003), The Year of the Flood (2009), and MaddAddam (2013), are ostensibly written in the tradition of environmental apocalypse, yet they constantly undermine its conventions through satire. This study considers the trilogy as an environmental project, performed in the interplay between Atwood’s literary stature, the ambiguous content of her work, and the irreverence with which she blurs distinctions between fact and fiction, art and commodity, and activism and aesthetics. Atwood’s use of the MaddAddam Trilogy in her real-world environmental activism creates uncertainty about how seriously both her art and her activism should be taken. Her opinions on environmental matters are legitimised, but at the same time an urgent environmental ‘message’ is presented as entertainment. Atwood’s message often appears circular: her art carries no message, but Margaret Atwood the writer does have an important message, which she gets to deliver precisely because of her art. Storytelling is a central theme in all three novels, and through both critiquing and relying on commercialism, the MaddAddam Trilogy demonstrates that there is no external position from which the imagination can perform environmentalist miracles. As such, Atwood’s environmental project furthers a profoundly ecological understanding of the world.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2017. , p. 286
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 15
Keywords [en]
Margaret Atwood; MaddAddam Trilogy; environmentalism; apocalypse; satire; celebrity activism; metalepsis; commodity aesthetics; storytelling
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
English
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-48126ISBN: 978-91-7063-771-1 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7063-772-8 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-48126DiVA, id: diva2:1089622
Public defence
2017-06-16, Sjöströmsalen, 1B309, Karlstads universitet, Karlstad, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-05-22 Created: 2017-04-20 Last updated: 2018-04-20Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

fulltext(1982 kB)981 downloads
File information
File name FULLTEXT02.pdfFile size 1982 kBChecksum SHA-512
3e3dcfabd9a3592a0c1976d784829de0c575a6538e70d85b001f3b91c40ec78801d4b4c5843e03f89210b0bae84f6fbc0f3d0f0165bedc0780cfed8c2329da17
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf
Podcast_interview(26526 kB)14 downloads
File information
File name AUDIO01.mp3File size 26526 kBChecksum SHA-512
c5bc5e78cca198d82f886c3a583a4c87ae73acdf9e393114f70e0b0e1e360ea35eab35912fcdd6a1d95d775bb5a1e2b8b9fc46e1f6a259c85077170de8f1ad1a
Type audioMimetype audio/mpeg

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Grimbeek, Marinette
By organisation
Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies (from 2013)
General Literature Studies

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
Total: 981 downloads
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

isbn
urn-nbn

Altmetric score

isbn
urn-nbn
Total: 938 hits
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf