Dissertation > Literature > Literary Theory > Countries in Literature

An Ecofeminist Reading of Margaret Atwood's Surfacing and Oryx and Crake

Author WangYiZuo
Tutor Steve Kulich
School Shanghai International Studies University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Ecofeminism Patriarchy Dualism Anthropocentrism Identity Construction
CLC I711.074
Type Master's thesis
Year 2014
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Ecofeminists strive to address environmental and feminist issues, which have achievedprominent priorities at the top of the agenda in our current globalized society. As a stream ofpolitical and social activism, ecofeminism has provided its own unique insights and perspectives.Despite its late start in the1970s, ecofeminism has already fostered disparate positions anddeveloped rapidly. Noticeably, with the development of ecocriticism, ecofeminism has graduallyfound its way into literary studies.Based on the Canadian woman writer Margaret Atwood’s two works of fiction, namelySurfacing and Oryx and Crake, this research addresses two questions from the socio-constructivist position: First, how are aspects of women’s oppression and nature’s oppressionlinked in these two texts? Second, how are ecofeminist issues (reductionism, intersubjectivity,reason, biodiversity, sexist-naturalist language and posthumanism) thematized and represented?These environmental and feminist concerns are placed in the framework of literary studies, inorder to criticize what the author considers the deep-rooted reason for such oppression: capitalistpatriarchy.Although this research starts from the position of socio-constructivism, the two Atwoodtexts are analyzed from various perspectives and different dimensions. These include: the Marxistsocioeconomic perspective, phenomenological perspective, linguistics perspective, and ethicalperspective. Meanwhile, this research destructs the level of social and cultural structures in adynamic, fluid way, within the critical paradigm of intercultural communication studies.This study consists of five parts: starting from an introduction and literature review, it thencarries out textual analysis of Surfacing, similar textual analysis of the Oryx and Crake and thenreports analytical conclusions. This project is introduced with a statement of the researchobjective, its significance, and its relatedness with intercultural communication studies. This isfollowed by an outline of the status studies on these two texts, and more importantly, delineationof studies of ecocriticism as a contextualization of ecofeminism, followed by an overview of theecofeminist methodology employed in this thesis..In the textual analysis of Surfacing, key concepts (reductionism, intersubjectivity andreason) have been analyzed from the socioeconomic, phenomenological and ethical perspectives,while in the textual analysis of Oryx and Crake, the paper mainly discusses three concepts(biodiversity, sexist-naturalist language and posthumanism) from the socioeconomic, linguistic and ethical perspective. These analyses show that Atwood’s Surfacing and Oryx and Crakerepresent the link between the oppression of women and nature by the capitalist patriarchy, yetemphasize different ecofeminist issues. Toward positing a solution for breaking away frompatriachy, Surfacing as a Gothic novel especially calls on the power of arts, while the Oryx andCrake particularly stress the urgency of creating a new science. Both works, and these analyticalframes, are considered to provide advances in intercultural literary research andecocritical/ecofeminist analysis.

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