Ecological Ideologies of Modernity and Their Temporal-Spatial Representations in Canadian, Russian, and Polish Literatures of the Twentieth Century

  • Author / Creator
    Yakovenko, Sergiy
  • The dissertation focuses on the temporal-spatial representations of the ecological ideologies of modernity in the writings of Canadian authors Georges Bugnet, Sheila Watson, and Howard O’Hagan, Russian authors Andrei Bitov and Tatiana Tolstaia, and Polish author Czesław Miłosz. The concept of ecology is used in a broader sense, based on its etymology of “dwelling-saying,” whereby the ecological ideologies of modernity are examined as both explicitly stated and implied in the narratives and descriptions, reflections and beliefs regarding the proper dwelling place of humans, their ethos. Temporal-spatial unity, or “chronotope” in Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory, is posited as the main principle of artistic organization of the ecologically relevant narratives. Chronotope sustains the works’ ecological and ecomimetic field within its given ideological and artistic perspectives (optical, mythological, or philosophical) and points to a wide range of artistic representations. Some of these representations include the paradisiac chronotope of origin fantasies, the cyclic time of nature and of the mythologized construction of natural humans, the places of the meeting of pre-modernity and modernity, along with the symbolism of elements and landscape formations. The eco-ideological stances and perspectives assumed by particular characters, narrators, or by ekphrastic descriptions are unraveled in connection with identified effects of defamiliarization, inherent to the discussed writings that make ecology as human dwelling-saying their key inquiry. The underlying methodological tools for the interpretations of ecological ideologies and the strategies of their defamiliariation are philosophical concepts of Jacques Lacan (the Symbolic, object petit a, Borromean knot, sinthome, foreclosure) and Martin Heidegger (Dasein, Ereignis, concealedness-unconcealedness, physis). Posing the human subject as an entity of time, Miłosz in his poetry and prose (the novel The Issa Valley) is preoccupied with the ontic multiplicity and at the same time individuality of beings. His poetic perception is grounded in the corporeal propinquity between subject and object, but he seeks the meaning beyond the earthly domain of Eros in the field of primordial time. Miłosz’s efforts at laying bare the gap between the environment and our perceptions, necessarily subjected to systems of signification, as well as his longing for the mystery of the originary event that marks our transcendence into time, echo in Bitov’s prose (the novellas “Man in a Landscape,” “Birds” and “Dacha District,” and the novel Awaiting Monkeys) as a systematic suspicion with regard to our capacities of unobstructed viewing of landscape, paired with a series of defamiliarizing techniques that, by estranging the environment as our home of being, paradoxically help make it closer and fuller. The origin fantasies, vital in the writings of Miłosz and Bitov, find their ideological counterparts in Georges Bugnet’s novel The Forest, which breaks down the enlightenment colonialist and Romantic ideologies revolving around the idea of the virgin wilderness. The defamiliarization of ecological ideologies in Bugnet, as well as in Watson’s short story “Rough Answer” and her novel The Double Hook, is enriched by genderly marked spatial elements of the environment that procure a peculiar distribution of ecomimetic characteristics of masculine and feminine chronotopes. Characteristic of The Double Hook and O’Hagan’s novel Tay John trickster narratives, deprived of auctorial authority, help uncover the ideological aberrations by contrasting the Symbolic and the pre-Symbolic chronotopes and by demythologizing historically and philosophically significant stances of humans in their relations with environment. The originary event of its appropriation in the discourses of modernity, in which the cyclic time of myth changes to linear time of history and the immediate environment becomes a subject to ecology, rendering the environment as human’s home of being estranged in the Symbolic order, is at the centre of the discussion of Tay John and Tolstaia’s novel The Slynx. The ideologically marked environmental chronotopes, functioning as objects-causes-of-desire, and the prevalence of origin fantasies are the main threads that tie together the selected authors and their works. The identification and problematization of ecological ideologies and their temporal-spatial representations in non-related national literatures open literary studies to the new field of interpretational capacities that ecocritique invests into the discipline of comparative literature.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 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.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Fried, Daniel (Department of East Asian Studies)
    • Pogosjan, Jelena (Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
    • Ilnytzkyj, Oleh (Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
    • Sywenky, Irene (Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
    • Varsava, Jerry (Department of English and Film Studies)