There are many aspects of ecological thinking. When reading texts through a lens of dark ecology, certain conflicts that arise from the imposition of human expectations on natural systems are revealed. These include interconnectedness, complicity, and ambiguities. Within a system, boundaries are contingent and transitory. Beginnings and ends are gradual, not definite. Ecological systems change over time, but it is a category error to imagine that change represents progress or to assume a teleological purpose. While there are hierarchies of power, and different roles, no species is, ecologically speaking, more advanced than another. Ecological criticism focuses on interconnectedness, complicity, and ambiguity in art and literature, and is well suited to texts that deal with destructive processes like degradation and decay. Noir serves as a good example of a genre that can be read as an ecological system. Graphic novels, which already defy easy categorization are also ripe for ecological study..In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep the boundary between natural and artificial is blurred, not just through the exploration of empathy, but in human artifacts. Watchmen uses many techniques, including a fractured narrative, simultaneous scenes on a single page, and the visual unity space and time to undermine the idea of clear beginnings and endings and critique teleology. A third work, Beautiful Darkness, probes how natural forces of disintegrations overcome temporary human constructs, including civilization. A dark ecological reading yields a sense of humility, instead of certainty, about human capacity for knowledge regarding ecological systems. It fosters respect for the unknowable that lies in shadow and the complicated natural systems that defy attempts at reduction. Disruptive events in narratives, when read ecologically, remind us of the unpredictable results that manipulation of components of the system can have for humanity, as well as on the functioning and balance of the system as a whole.
College and Department
Humanities; Comparative Arts and Letters
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Whipple, Rachel Dene, "Interconnectedness, Complicity and Ambiguity: Reading with Dark Ecology" (2016). Theses and Dissertations. 6090.
dark ecology, graphic novels, noir, ecological criticism