Orientations in Weather: A Northern Textual Ecology

  • Author / Creator
    Fredrickson, Rebecca L
  • This dissertation develops a “Northern Textual Ecology,” a methodological approach that posits a correlation between the geo/meteorological forces of the north and the literary texts, Indigenous and other, of the north. I suggest that both the actual land and literary texts are environments: both are comprised of participants in a continuously transforming space of activity, and both are territories of expression. As a territory of expression, a text can be composed by a range of living participants, including human, animal, or plant, as well as atmosphere. However, this dissertation uses the term text primarily in the context of human artistic compositions. This dissertation navigates two kinds of weather: the actual weather and textual, or composed, weather. Textual weather engages affective, rather than atmospheric, becomings. However, in the context of the literary north, these two forms of weather become indistinguishable, the atmospheric feeding into the affective, because so much of life in the north depends on actual weather. Theorizations of the north’s actual weather come from Indigenous cosmologies, specifically the Inuit concepts of Sila, isuma, Sedna. These cosmological concepts present weather as an active agent in the land’s relativity, connectivity, and contingency. This cosmological approach is particularly relevant when applied to northern texts that refer to these concepts by name, while also demonstrating the shaping forces that these concepts theorize. This approach is also relevant when applied to texts that demonstrate an engagement with the non-discursive powers of weather via techniques that extract affective sensations from the shaping forces of weather. As such, the weather in literary texts is not a projection of weather, but a transformation of physical weather into sensations that distil the affects of weather. In other words, textual weather is not a mimetic or figurative copy of the forces of weather as they are represented in literary texts; rather, it is weather that is composed as becomings and intensities within texts. A text, then, becomes a term for the productive counterpoint between writer and earth. I theorize an immanent connection between the land and human artistic compositions with the help of Deleuze and Guattari’s geophilosophical terms and concepts, such as intensities, becomings, deterritorializations, assemblages, affects, percepts, and multiplicities. These concepts contribute to a critical vocabulary that undoes the separation between the earth and its inhabitants and makes the claim that, beyond the categories of subjects and objects, there are only active territories that think in relation to the earth. A literary text is expressive, just as the land is expressive. Following this idea, a reader’s experience with the becomings and intensities of a text is analogous to the wayfarer’s improvised movements through the unpredictable weather of the north. In the actual environment, wayfaring involves an attention to weather as it interacts with the land. Wayfaring practices emphasize an empirical perception of the land that contributes to an improvisational mode of travel. In a textual environment, wayfaring involves finding orientations in the affective events or becomings of literature and film.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2015
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.