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Hybrid Futures: Hybridity, the Anthropocene and Speculative Fiction

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2029
Number of pages336
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis considers how textual and bodily hybridities can operate in speculative fiction to reject and challenge ecophobic and extractive attitude endemic with what has been titled, the Anthropocene. Highlighting Donna Haraway’s Chthulucene as a key possible future but that any progression towards the multispecies connectivity it espouses are limited by a cognitive disposition towards humans. This thesis demonstrates how speculative fiction provides clues towards overcoming the limitations of Anthropos, the cultural idealisation of human societies, in favour of shared futures for both humans and more-than-humans. Textual hybridities refers to how texts may draw upon multiple modes and traditions rather than just be limited to a single genre. Although there has been much scholarship already on the links between the ecological and various speculative fiction modes such as the gothic or science fiction, few have considered these modes and traditions together.

By reading speculative fiction texts as cross-modal, as textual hybrids, I argue we can appreciate a range of affective responses within a single text. Meanwhile, this thesis will also discuss how representations of bodily hybridities offer the chance of Chthulucenic futures by delineating Anthropos as a separate and hierarchised subject. Instead, this thesis places the human body and Anthropos as something that is breached and permeated by the more-than-human in various forms: the environment, technology, the divine, the weird, the inorganic and the monstrous. By accepting and narrating such hybridities, speculative fictions offer potential routes to more self-conscious, connected living.

The initial two chapters of this thesis will consider historical attitudes which have worked to promote ecophobic and extractive practices, and how these might be challenged. The latter two chapters consider texts where the relationship between humans and the land have been convoluted and weirded to the extreme, and so hope to offer readings of the selected texts which consider how humans may rework their relationship with the ecological.