Date of Award

Summer 8-2016

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Martina Sciolino

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Eric Tribunella

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Linda Allen

Committee Member 3 Department



Young Adult (YA) dystopias, in recent years, have imagined a future world fueled by the overuse and misuse of technology, the advancement of science for human gain, as well as societies ruled by governments that govern based on their own self-interests and economic gain. Such novels have opened the door for discussion about how the present-day actions of societies can impact the future of the environment; yet many only focus their attention on societies in the North— regions considered “developed” by the western world. In her YA novel, Orleans (2014), Sherri L. Smith focuses attention on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and how government denial of ecological realties in southern societies—regions considered “developing”— can lead to catastrophic environmental degradation. Smith’s novel also diverges from other YA novels in that her protagonist is of African descent.

This thesis considers how global understandings of the North/South divide can lead to understandings of the divide on a local scale. Through its setting, conflict, and characterization, Orleans, exposes the intersections of environmental injustice with racial and gendered based oppression in order to critique the local North/South divide in present-day New Orleans. Smith’s novel also advocates for the reconciliation of the divide through its dramatization of ecofeminist principles, namely Rosemary Radford Ruether’s “ecofeminist ethic” and Vendana Shiva’s “decolonization of the north.