Notes for an econarratological theory of character

TitleNotes for an econarratological theory of character
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsCaracciolo, M
JournalFrontiers of Narrative Studies
Paginations172 - s189
Date Published2018///
ISBN Number2509-4882
KeywordsAnthropocene, Contemporary fiction, Ecocriticism, narrative, Nonhuman

Scientists and scholars in multiple fields have been discussing the current geological epoch under the heading of the “Anthropocene” – an era marked by the planetary impact of human activities (Crutzen and Stoermer 2000). The epistemological shift brought about by this notion exposes the latent anthropocentrism of narrative practices, raising a challenge taken up by narrative theorists such as Erin James (2015) and Alexa Weik von Mossner (2017) in the context of an “econarratology.” In this article, I examine the prime suspect for anthropocentrism in narrative – namely, the notion of character as intrinsically human-like. My point of departure is A. J. Greimas’s (1976) actantial model of narrative, which I revisit and revise in light of work in the field of ecolinguistics (Goatly 1996). I thus explore five strategies through which narrative may integrate nonhuman characters that challenge both anthropocentrism and the subject-object binary that anthropocentrism entails. I exemplify these strategies by discussing contemporary novels that deal with the Anthropocenic entanglement of humanity and the nonhuman world.


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