Date of Award

5-2014

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Committee Chair

Charles B. Sumner

Committee Chair Department

English

Committee Member 2

Katherine H. Cochran

Committee Member 2 Department

English

Committee Member 3

Martina M. Sciolino

Committee Member 3 Department

English

Abstract

The field of scholarship known as ecocriticism is growing rapidly. Members of the field must endeavor to define ecocritism’s goals and parameters to prevent fragmentation and lack of focus. While most professed ecocritics agree that increased awareness and respect for the environment must be of paramount importance, some disagreement exists concerning the best methods to achieve this goal. One of the issues that requires clarification involves whether proponents of ecocriticism should adopt a more ecocentric or anthropocentric perspective of the environment. The former views humanity as part of a worldwide community and views nature as valuable in its own right. The latter judges nature’s value in respect to its use to humanity. This essay presents the two arguments and suggests that, in order to truly change public perspectives of the environment, ecocriticism must advocate an ecocentric perspective of humankind’s relationship to the environment. To support this argument, I look to Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer and present Binx Bollings as an example of humanity’s reigning anthropocentric tendencies. Bollings’ pattern of observing his environment as a commodity to serve his needs prevents his being able to connect meaningfully with his surroundings and stimulates a sense of isolation and alienation.

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