Date of Graduation

5-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Graduate School

Advisor

Mohja Kahf

Committee Member

Kay Pritchett

Second Committee Member

Kirstin Erickson

Abstract

This study analyzes the role of nature and the environment in two works by the ethnic minority women writers Ana Castillo and Elmaz Abinader. The works examined are Castillo's novel So Far From God and Abinader's memoir Children of the Roojme. My research begins with a review of these authors' ouvre, contextualizing it within the themes here addressed. It continues with an analysis of a spectrum of Arab American and Chicano/a works that lend fruitful content and perspective to an ecocritical analysis. Although these two works are dissimilar in genre, my study demonstrates significant parallels in the following areas: characters' spirituality vis-à-vis nature and the environment; animal representation, animal/human interaction, and contextualization of animal typologies; landscape representation and its importance to culture, and the travel-landscape connection; and, the gendered use of environments under patriarchal systems and the subsequently gendered acquisition of knowledge. My research on spirituality and religion finds an application of eco theology and liberation theology using the work of Sally McFague, Gustavo Gutiérrez and Leonardo Boff. The chapter focusing on animals makes use of animal typology theories drawing primarily on the work by Greg Garrard. The chapter on landscape representation and the travel -landscape connection finds theoretical support from the work of Michel Kowaleski and Mary Morris, and the gendered use of environments as it relates to the gendered acquisition of knowledge finds support in a diversity of ecofeminist theories, more importantly feminist political ecology as brought forth in the seminal work Feminist Political Ecology: Global Issues and Local Experiences edited by Dianne Rocheleau, Barbara Thomas-Slayter, and Esther Wangari who in addition to recognizing other ecofeminist theories, add the aspect of science to their study.

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