Storying with groundwater: why we cry

Wardle, D 2018, Storying with groundwater: why we cry, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Media and Communication, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Storying with groundwater: why we cry
Author(s) Wardle, D
Year 2018
Abstract This PhD inquiry adopts a creative practice methodology to produce a novel-length manuscript 'Why We Cry' and an inter-connected dissertation, each of which interrogate the creative writer's approach toward the problem of how largely unseen matter, in this case groundwater, might find expression in climate fiction. Groundwater's potency and fragility in the Anthropocene, its scale and invisibility, its links to ecological and anthropogenic calamities, and that it cannot be directly experienced in the manner of flood, storm and tempest, puts it in need of narration. The contribution of this thesis towards knowledge production, through the enmeshment of artistic practice and material eco-critical analysis, illuminates the processes of `storying' the facts of groundwater in narrative long-form fiction. Through a contemporary setting, a realist fictional style and a critical engagement with science, it is proposed that climate fiction writers might employ the novel form to enable the significance of groundwater to be seen and felt in an accessible way by a wide range of readers. By `storying with groundwater' through climate fiction, this PhD draws attention to the social, cultural and political imperative for engagements with the `storied matter' of non-human actors (Iovino and Oppermann 2014), and aims to show how fiction writing might express the necessary urgency for action on climate change. The PhD proposes three modes of intervention for climate fiction writers and creative writing scholars to address the question: How might climate fiction give narrative expression to groundwater? Firstly, by establishing `ways of knowing' groundwater as matter; the thesis spells out how writing groundwater as a hyperobject (Morton 2013) enables its enmeshments with humans to be affirmed and performed through narrative. Secondly, merging the features of the novel form in fiction writing with a non-representational, posthuman viewpoint is argued as a way to address the problem of representing large-scale, unbounded and inter-relational matter, such as groundwater, within a contemporary fictional narrative. The thesis argues for a permeable exchange between the parameters of climate fiction and non-representational perspectives. Thirdly, the thesis proposes climate fiction's role to invoke affect as a means to avoid the problem of didacticism in narrative. Whether affects, such as threat, fear, passion and hope, might lead to readers' real world agency or political activism remains speculative. This PhD argues that by interweaving these three interventions, climate fiction writers and scholars might vitally elucidate and complicate their performances of the vulnerability and potency of inanimate entities such as groundwater under the effects of global warming.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Media and Communication
Subjects Creative Writing (incl. Playwriting)
Keyword(s) Climate Fiction
Creative Writing
Groundwater
Storying
Hyperobject
Anthropocene Fiction
Posthuman
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Created: Fri, 01 Mar 2019, 10:48:03 EST by Adam Rivett
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