Today’s ecological crisis prompts us to rethink our attitude towards physical and natural realities that have traditionally been seen as opposed to human subjectivity and agency. What emerges from this “non-human turn” is a sense of our interdependence with things like the bacteria in our intestines or the carbon atoms supporting life on Earth. Ecological theorist Timothy Morton uses the metaphor of the “mesh” to express this idea of human/non-human interconnectedness. This project maps the formal and thematic strategies through which contemporary narrative practices engage with the non-human and envisage this interconnectedness.
Comparing fictional narratives in print (novels and short stories) and conversational storytelling, the project explores the ways in which narrative can forge connections across levels of reality, weaving together the human and the non-human into a single plot. The assumption is that narrative is a field where fictional practices are in constant dialogue with stories told in everyday conversation—and with the culture-wide beliefs and concerns those stories reflect. The project builds on a combination of methods (close readings of novels, qualitative research), aiming to open up a new field of study at the intersection of literary scholarship and the social sciences—with narrative theory serving as a catalyst for the interdisciplinary exchange.