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‘Plastic’ perspectives ecocriticism, epigenetics and magic real metamorphoses in the fiction of Suniti Namjoshi, Githa Hariharan and Salman Rushdie

‘Plastic’ perspectives ecocriticism, epigenetics and magic real metamorphoses in the fiction of Suniti Namjoshi, Githa Hariharan and Salman Rushdie
‘Plastic’ perspectives ecocriticism, epigenetics and magic real metamorphoses in the fiction of Suniti Namjoshi, Githa Hariharan and Salman Rushdie
In current research across the humanities and science, there is a burgeoning interest in ‘plasticity,’ epigenesis and ecocriticism. This project brings ideas from these fields together, and asks how they may be expanded and illuminated by metamorphoses articulated in Magic Real fiction. Thus, I argue that Magic Real literature has a significant role in disseminating contemporary bio-scientific ideas. My methodology consists of applying Catherine Malabou’s theory of plasticity to literature, arguing that ‘plastic readings’ evoke more complex and ecologically generative models of metamorphosis. As such, they subvert the merely ‘flexible’ or often vaunted general ‘interconnectedness’ of life. Philosopher of Biology John Dupré highlights the centrality of process to biological science, refuting the existence of discrete and unique individuals, and arguing that ecosystems are far more synergetic than a relatively simple interrelatedness suggests. Indeed, his theory of ‘promiscuous individualism’ repudiates the existence of discrete individuals, and ‘promiscuous realism’1 renounces inflexible species categories. The removal of such rigid classifications enable varied and limitless ‘plastic perspectives’ as evident in Magic Real fiction, and affectively convey more authentic, intensely ‘felt’ and shared responses to the environment. Thus, this thesis indicates ways in which a fusion of Magic Real literature and biological science, may productively contribute to ecocriticism. Furthermore, metaphors of skin describe the inclusiveness and ‘literal’ physicality of biological transformation in visceral and fantastic ways, connecting literature with science, and broadening the field of ecocriticism through approaches that challenge the centrality of the human self.

Ecocriticism, defined by Cheryll Glotfelty in The Ecocriticism Reader, as ‘the relationship between literature and the environment,’ has previously largely involved a partial focus on ‘human’ environments, totemic species and the scientific or ‘factual’ genres of non-fiction and Western documentary. This thesis addresses these prejudices through the analysis of the work of two lesser known Postcolonial writers Suniti Namjoshi and Githa Hariharan. Their Magic Real literature addresses out-dated hierarchies of nation, gender, species and genre by elucidating metamorphoses of domestic or ‘lesser’ creatures, rather than the charismatic-megafauna more usually the subject of fiction and often employed by environmental conservation campaigns.
University of Southampton
Perkins, Hilary Elaine
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Perkins, Hilary Elaine
6ad38840-cccf-4f66-9e2e-9f08dda2c93f
Jones, Stephanie
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Hanson, Sheila
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Perkins, Hilary Elaine (2017) ‘Plastic’ perspectives ecocriticism, epigenetics and magic real metamorphoses in the fiction of Suniti Namjoshi, Githa Hariharan and Salman Rushdie. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 264pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

In current research across the humanities and science, there is a burgeoning interest in ‘plasticity,’ epigenesis and ecocriticism. This project brings ideas from these fields together, and asks how they may be expanded and illuminated by metamorphoses articulated in Magic Real fiction. Thus, I argue that Magic Real literature has a significant role in disseminating contemporary bio-scientific ideas. My methodology consists of applying Catherine Malabou’s theory of plasticity to literature, arguing that ‘plastic readings’ evoke more complex and ecologically generative models of metamorphosis. As such, they subvert the merely ‘flexible’ or often vaunted general ‘interconnectedness’ of life. Philosopher of Biology John Dupré highlights the centrality of process to biological science, refuting the existence of discrete and unique individuals, and arguing that ecosystems are far more synergetic than a relatively simple interrelatedness suggests. Indeed, his theory of ‘promiscuous individualism’ repudiates the existence of discrete individuals, and ‘promiscuous realism’1 renounces inflexible species categories. The removal of such rigid classifications enable varied and limitless ‘plastic perspectives’ as evident in Magic Real fiction, and affectively convey more authentic, intensely ‘felt’ and shared responses to the environment. Thus, this thesis indicates ways in which a fusion of Magic Real literature and biological science, may productively contribute to ecocriticism. Furthermore, metaphors of skin describe the inclusiveness and ‘literal’ physicality of biological transformation in visceral and fantastic ways, connecting literature with science, and broadening the field of ecocriticism through approaches that challenge the centrality of the human self.

Ecocriticism, defined by Cheryll Glotfelty in The Ecocriticism Reader, as ‘the relationship between literature and the environment,’ has previously largely involved a partial focus on ‘human’ environments, totemic species and the scientific or ‘factual’ genres of non-fiction and Western documentary. This thesis addresses these prejudices through the analysis of the work of two lesser known Postcolonial writers Suniti Namjoshi and Githa Hariharan. Their Magic Real literature addresses out-dated hierarchies of nation, gender, species and genre by elucidating metamorphoses of domestic or ‘lesser’ creatures, rather than the charismatic-megafauna more usually the subject of fiction and often employed by environmental conservation campaigns.

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‘Plastic’ Perspectives Ecocriticism, Epigenetics and Magic Real Metamorphoses in the fiction of Suniti Namjoshi, Githa Hariharan and Salman Rushdie - Version of Record
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Published date: February 2017

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 418008
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/418008
PURE UUID: 86ca4c96-b9db-42c7-9478-9bd2fd0dbcda

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Date deposited: 20 Feb 2018 17:30
Last modified: 14 Mar 2019 05:14

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