Petronarratology: A Bioregional Approach to Oil Stories
In “Petronarratology: A Bioregional Approach to Oil Stories”, Bart Welling argues that ecocritics and narratologists have an important role to play in challenging the narratives that help perpetuate the modern world’s catastrophic addiction to fossil fuels. Welling builds on the concept of reinhabitation, a central idea in the grassroots bioregional movement, as he explores strategies through which authors have reinhabited (i.e., transformed from within) not just oil-polluted places but problematic energy narratives, such as narratives that euphemize hydrocarbons as “energy” in the first place. Focusing on books by David Gessner and Stephanie LeMenager, Welling identifies six features of reinhabitory petronarratives: (1) they acknowledge their authors’ personal debts to oil; (2) they own up to the enmeshment of environmentally oriented ways of thinking in our hydrocarbon-fuelled culture; (3) they make room for the voices of ordinary residents of this culture, including people whose political perspectives clash with those of the authors; (4) they take seriously the reinhabitory capacities of nonhuman beings; (5) they rethink petroleum itself as a new kind of character in the fictions of “petromodernity”; and (6) they describe physical encounters with unprocessed hydrocarbons, thus addressing the massive problems posed by fossil fuels on a productively non-apocalyptic scale.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Welling. (2018). Petronarratology: A Bioregional Approach to Oil Stories. English Studies, 99(4), 442–457. https://doi.org/10.1080/0013838X.2018.1488097