"Postapocalyptic Storyworlds: Estranging Ecologies in Twenty-First Century Speculative Narratives"
In light of anxious uncertainty about how the environmental changes of the Anthropocene will affect human and non-human life on the planet, post-apocalyptic fiction opens imaginative spaces for engaging with possible consequences of current developments. As a genre it is primarily defined by its storyworld projecting futures shaped by cataclysmic environmental changes. It thus estranges our familiar environments and provides a storyworld scaffold for other genres and narrative modes to build on and confront anthropogenic environmental change. This PhD project explores how a variety of different narratives use the speculative premise of a postapocalyptic storyworld and its accompanying motifs to blend genre conventions and engage with material and psychological entanglements of human and non-human existence. Drawing on cognitive approaches to literature and understanding environmental imagination in terms of embodied enactment, this thesis investigates the narrative strategies employed in hybrid texts that bring elements of horror, fantasy, indigenous literature, or the new weird into postapocalyptic storyworlds.