Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Ecophobic Rationality in Richard Flanagan's Wanting and J.M. Coetzee's Dusklands




College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



In this paper I investigate how Richard Flanagan's Wanting and J.M. Coetzee's Dusklands rewrite historical narratives of colonial settlement. Flanagan and Coetzee deconstruct Enlightenment rationales for colonization by exposing them as ideological superstructures that obscure their relation to economic reality. Moreover, I contend both authors are assiduously attuned to the way colonial discourse is abetted by what Simon Estok refers to as ecophobia, or fear/hatred of the natural world. Thus both works offiction emphasize the importance of establishing a link between economic and political rationality and the tragic implications of the irrational drive to master Nature, both within and without. In both novels, ecophobia is represented as a psychological process whereby the passion of sympathy with women, indigenous peoples, animals, and the environment is rigorously repressed to maintain a position of transcendent mastery over what I refer to as the body of nature. Inasmuch as sympathy has the power to disarticulate difference between imperial subjectivities and its others, it has the power to destabilize the iconicity of the subject-object relation perpetuated by the Enlightenment discourse of rationality.

Conference Name

109th Annual Conference of the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association

Conference Location

Claremont, California

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