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We-narrative and the challenges of nonhuman collectives
Journal Contribution - Journal Article
Narrative theory is devoting increasing attention to we-narrative and, more generally, stories that center on groups. However, the we in question tends to be a human one. In this article, I argue that narrative can also foreground nonhuman assemblages (animals, plants, material objects, etc.) and can employ this focus to question anthropocentric assumptions. I discuss two examples: Tinkers (2009), by Paul Harding, in which a more-than-human we emerges and brings together the human protagonists and cosmic realities; and The Overstory (2018), by Richard Powers, whose plot organization builds on an analogy between a group of environmental activists and a symbiotic collective of plants and fungi. Through we-narrative (Harding) and formal engagement with collectivity (Powers), these contemporary works demonstrate how narrative (and narrative theory) can speak to current debates on the ecological crisis: imagining more-than-human assemblages through narrative form calls for a profound rethinking of collective behavior on a planetary scale.
Pages: 86 - 97