"The Voices of Ghosts": Feminine Self and the Commodifying Collective in Margaret Atwood's MaddAddam Trilogy
Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy is a devastating evaluation of its female characters’ commodification within their society, as well as their dictated role in its ultimate rebuild. As the trilogy opens and closes with masculine voices controlling narrative authority, the limited and bracketed narrative experiences of Atwood’s female characters drive commentary on the damaging and inevitable nature of patriarchal structures. This paper explores the narrative authority of women within the MaddAddam trilogy, and their relationships with each other, themselves, and their male counterparts to determine social impacts on individual characters and interactions. Despite the destruction of the MaddAddam society and the aftermath of women coming together for survival and community, the rebuilding of that society reaffirms the presence of patriarchal values, and asserts that when social structures rooted in the commodification and dehumanization of women are wiped clean, patriarchal echoes will re-emerge to suppress feminist upward motion in the rebuilding of a structured collective.
Corianne Bracewell graduated from the MA English program at the University of Saskatchewan, after completing her project on Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy. Following on the heels of her BA at the same institution, her Master’s was the perfect way to continue focusing on what she loves most: literature.
"As a Species We're Doomed by Hope": Capitalism as the Limit of the Anthropocene in Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake
This paper draws on eco-Marxist and cultural materialist thought to argue that Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake (2003) demonstrates the failures of two dominant modes of thought — bioessentialism, embodied by the character Crake, and liberal humanism, embodied by the character Jimmy — in confronting the central crisis of the Anthropocene: the subsumption of nature under capitalism. The novel demonstrates that both human exceptionalisms, through their clinging to the concept of “the human,” fail to fully apprehend the force of capitalism as a material formation that shapes Anthropocene discourse within the novel. Despite its ambiguous stance regarding the human, the novel is unambiguous in its insistence that in order to effectively confront the crises of the Anthropocene, humanity must recognize the Anthropocene as Capitalocene.
Andrew McWhinney is an MA Student at McMaster University, focusing on class politics in contemporary Canadian literature. His in-progress thesis, “Class and the Circulation of Subjectivity in Contemporary Canadian Fiction,” will examine how the CBC program Canada Reads affects how class narratives in Canadian texts are circulated publicly.
Amanda Pavani Fernandes
Narrating the Post-apocalypse in MaddAddam: Language as an Instrument for Hope
This paper will contrast the way language is at first broken (in the dystopia) and later rebuilt (in the post-apocalypse) through a reclamation of meaning and referential items in language in Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam (2013), the last instalment in her MaddAddam series. Navigating the characters' post-apocalyptic circumstances requires not only scavenging, but also mythmaking, narrative, and interpersonal communication — interspecies communication, more importantly. Toby’s narrative of the after structures the identity of her group, instrumentalizing hope towards survival and towards recreation, across generations and species, through Blackbeard’s inheritance of that narrative persona, into hybrid forms of identification, community, and interdependence.
Amanda Pavani Fernandes has a doctorate in Literary Studies from the Federal University of Minas Gerais, in Brazil. She currently works as a translator and teacher and is co-founder of the study group Núcleo de Estudos de Utopismos e Ficção Científica. Her interests include afrofuturism, contemporary sff, Brazilian sf, and a job in academia.
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