Year of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

English (Literature)

Department or School/College

Department of English

Committee Chair

David L. Moore

Commitee Members

Christopher Preston, Nancy Cook


Always Coming Home, Chris Cuomo, Christopher Preston, Ecofeminism, Ecofeminist Ethics, Edward Casey, Ethic of Flourishing, Karen J. Warren, Molly Gloss, Phenomenology, Sense of Place, The Dazzle of Day, Ursula K. Le Guin, Val Plumwood


University of Montana


In this thesis I use ecofeminist environmental ethics and phenomenological place theory to examine the sense of place created by Molly Gloss in The Dazzle of Day (1997) and by Ursula K. Le Guin in Always Coming Home (1985). Ecofiction narratives, such as Dazzle and Always, are particularly important because they allow us to explore potentially unexamined relationships of unjustified domination between human communities and the environments in which they are situated. Additionally, these narratives also allow us to imagine what nontraditional ethical systems might look like in practice. Both novels attend quite closely to the notion of self-in-relation, particularly as it pertains to the environment. By investigating the ways that the human communities created by Gloss and Le Guin interact with the nonhuman environment we can identify important ethical positions that vary from potentially environmentally destructive ethical systems such as utilitarianism and contractarianism. In particular, these communities reflect an ecofeminist ethics of flourishing. In addition to their particular ethical stances, the novels also reveal the mutual importance of environments and the bodies that inhabit them in constructing sense of place. The complex interactions of the physical landscape, human bodies, and the assumptions that humans bring to places all come together to create what we call place. The ways in which epistemology is shaped by place also influences this interaction. The physical conditions of place influence how we come to know what we know; the ways in which our perception develops is influenced by the environments in which we live, and as these environments change so to do our ways of thinking. Gloss and Le Guin create within their narratives complex and dynamic worlds capable of not only foreshadowing possible ecological ruin for our own world but also of imagining possible escape from such a future. Their works allow us to reimagine ecological relationships and create new possibilities.

This record is only available
to users affiliated with
the University of Montana.

Request Access



© Copyright 2012 Kerry Fine