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The End of Apocalypse: The Rhetoric of Apocalypse in Contemporary Environmental Discourse
AuthorHambrick, Keira M.
AdvisorBranch, Michael P.
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The aim of this thesis is to examine the definitions and uses of apocalyptic rhetoric in contemporary environmental discourse. I engage Barry Brummett's definitions of premillennial and postmillennial configurations of apocalyptic episodes to examine how apocalypticism functions in environmental nonfiction, eco-fiction, and science fiction. I also apply Carolyn Miller's genre theory to my work, investigating how different textual forms (nonfiction, eco-fiction, and science fiction) combine with apocalyptic episodes and strategies to produce distinct sub-genres of apocalyptic environmental writing. Rolf Zwaan's work on genre expectations aids my analysis of how, within these sub-genres, readers' genre expectations affect whether and to what degree they are able to separate, or decouple, reality from the world represented in the text. I argue that environmental nonfiction disables the decoupling process, and I explore how this inability to decouple influences the effects of apocalyptic rhetoric on audiences. In eco-fiction and science fiction, however, the activation of this cognitive decoupling process provides a creative space in which readers are able explore alternate realities. I contend that the decoupling of apocalypticism in environmental writing is an important process for environmentalists, ecocritics, and environmental rhetors to understand. Many critics and theorists consider apocalypticism the voice of the environmental movement, and it is my goal to reveal how this voice changes in different genres to speak to audiences about environmental concerns and action.