The stories of nature, the nature of stories: an ecocritical reading of Dr. Seuss's The Lorax

Engster, Marie (2017) The stories of nature, the nature of stories: an ecocritical reading of Dr. Seuss's The Lorax. [Mémoire]

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Item Type: Mémoire
Creators: Engster, Marie
Directeur de recherche: Ventura, Héliane
Divisions: UFR Langues, Littératures et Civilisations Etrangères > Département Etudes du Monde Anglophone (DEMA)
Diplôme: M2 Etudes anglophones
ARTS-LETTRES-LANGUES-PHILOSOPHIE > Lettres modernes > Littérature comparée
SCIENCES HUMAINES ET SOCIALES > Etudes de l'environnement > Environnement et société
Abstract: The story raises the problematic surrounding many environmental writings: how to talk about and represent nature in ways that promote a harmonious relationship between humans and their environment, instead of deepening dualistic ideas? Through the Once-Ler and the Lorax, the two extremities of the debate between pro-capitalists and pro-environmentalists are represented, and the radical nature of the story's argument seems, at first sight, to convey a Manichean point of view. The first part of this study will focus on the ways Seuss represents nature in opposition to technology, and will question the limits of such representations. Can radical environmentalism and the ideas conveyed by deep ecologists lead to productive solutions to the current environmental situation? The second part will focus on the rhetorics of environmentalism, in order to answer the following questions: to what extent is The Lorax a radical statement conveying its author's belief in particular ideologies? Would it be appropriate to see in this book a reflection on constructed discourses and the extent of their effect on large audiences? Thinking of environmentalist and capitalist discourses in terms of narratives using particular techniques to make their argument legitimate allows me to go beyond the epistemological reading of the first part, and to approach the subject in relation to post-structuralist theories on the power of rhetoric to perpetuate dominant discourses in society. Finally, in an attempt to gradually move beyond conceptions of language as a constructed medium to convey ideologies, I will think about Seuss's story in terms of art and art's ability to reach the human instinct for creation. How universal is the practice of storytelling, and what function does it have in human societies? A close analysis of the “story within the story” narrative technique will reveal the book's relation to ancient oral traditions.