(UN)NATURAL BODIES, ENDANGERED SPECIES, AND EMBODIED OTHERS IN MARGARET ATWOOD’S ORYX AND CRAKE
MARCY LYNN GALBREATH A.A. Daytona Beach Community College, 1990 B.A. Flagler College, 1993
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in the Department of English in the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Central Florida Orlando, Florida
Summer Term 2010
© 2010 Marcy Galbreath
The developing knowledge of life sciences is at the crux of Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake as she examines human promise gone awry in a near-future dystopia. This thesis examines aspects of posthumanism, ecocriticism, and feminism in the novel’s scientific, cultural, and environmental projections. Through the trope of extinction, Atwood’s text foregrounds the effects of human exceptionalism and instrumentalism in relation to the natural world, and engenders an analysis of human identity through its biological and cultural aspects. Extinction thus serves as a metaphor for both human development and human excesses, redefining the idea of human within the context of vulnerable species. Oryx and Crake reveals humanity’s organic connections with non-human others through interspecies gene-splicing and the ensuing hybridity. In this perspective, Atwood’s text provides a dialogue on humankind’s alienation from the natural world and synchronic connections to the animal other, and poses timely questions for twentyfirst century consumerism, globalism, and humanist approaches to nature. The loss of balance provoked by the apocalyptic situation in Oryx and Crake challenges commonplace attitudes toward beneficial progress. This imbalance signals the need for a new narrative: A consilient reimagining of humanity’s role on earth as an integrated organism rather than an intellectual singularity.
I dedicate this effort in memory of my mother, Elsie Jontes Galbreath, whose greatest gift to me was a...