Ecologies of Trauma in Anglophone African Literature

September 2022 to August 2026
African literature
climate change
environmental imagination
Research fields
Languages and Literatures

This thesis productively combines the lessons of literary trauma theory and ecocriticism to explore African literary texts written in English from the perspective of ecotrauma. Just as anthropocentrism does not hold the solutions to a world increasingly ravaged by climate change, I argue that literary trauma theory and ecocriticism by themselves are unable to adequately apprehend texts that deal with the complex interactions and relationships between humans and the nonhuman environment. Using the concept of ecotrauma and the tenets of a green trauma theory, I explore canonical and contemporary works of African literature from across the continent and ethically re-orient literary theory towards a continuum of trauma on both human and nonhuman subjects. In doing so, I investigate and describe the wide range of narrative strategies that African authors use not only to write the environment, but also to write the spectrum of suffering that results from environmental degradation.