The biblical flood myth revisited: representations of flood and deluge in climate fiction

Lancaster, C (2023) The biblical flood myth revisited: representations of flood and deluge in climate fiction. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.

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In this thesis, I demonstrate how the biblical flood myth is revisited in narrative framings of flood-related catastrophe in the climate novel. Despite the number of works that explore environmental concerns in relation to flooding, there has been a gap in research on the use of the biblical flood myth in climate novels that use floods as metaphorical and material indicators of climate change. I examine how the biblical flood myth is used in climate novels to explore existential questions around human ontology and ethics in a time of environmental uncertainty, and by doing so show how myth plays an important role in the way ecological calamity is imagined and experienced. Myths, I argue, reflect historical processes and change over time as the cultures that maintain them change. Therefore, the first part of the thesis revisits reworkings of the biblical flood in novels that contribute to the development of climate fiction and form part of its prehistory, George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss (1860) in Chapter One, and D.H Lawrence's The Rainbow (1915) in Chapter Two. I explore the entangled historiographical and mythical elements of these novels from an ecocritical perspective. The second part of the thesis explores the biblical flood myth in the climate novel. In Chapter Three, I discuss George Turner's The Sea and Summer ( 1987) as one of the first novels to address the potential future impacts of the historical trajectory of fossil fuelled industrialisation as critiqued by Eliot and Lawrence. I explore the ways in which it offers an apocalyptic vision of environmental collapse via deluge. In Chapter Four, I examine how floods are used as a metaphor for ecological loss and grief in Barbara Kingsolver' s Flight Behaviour (2012) and Mireille Juchau' s The World Without Us (2015). In Chapter Five, I explore environmental futurity in James Bradley's Clade (2015) and Lydia Millet's A Children's Bible (2020) through the metaphorical structure of rebirth and renewal acquired from the biblical flood narrative. Finally, the conclusion evaluates the ways in which the biblical flood myth contributes to environmentalist political imaginations.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: literary analysis, ecocriticism, flood myths, mythology, climate change, fossil fuels, environmentalism, environmental politics, George Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, George Turner, Barbara Kingsolver, Mireille Juchau, James Bradley, Lydia Millet
Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
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Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2023 17:32
Last Modified: 13 Nov 2023 15:26
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