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


ecocriticism, gardens, postcolonial, Silko, technology


University of Montana


This thesis explores the tropes of the garden and technology in Leslie Marmon Silko’s Gardens in the Dunes and Almanac of the Dead, and identifies the modes of resistance and ecological ethics of Silko’s counternarratives to Western thought paradigms. Silko’s fiction is often characterized as apocalyptically violent, and the goal of my thesis project is to articulate what, underneath all the violence, I perceive as the hopeful and empowering ecological ethics of Silko’s work. Gardens and Almanac, I argue, rather than being antithetical in form and content represent different aspects of this ecological ethic. In Chapter One, I explore the nuances of the trope of the garden in Gardens. I argue that the place-based ethics that Silko describes through the character of Indigo and the garden demonstrate a kind of bioregional ethics that is globally relevant and mobile, and suggest that the place-based perspective is necessary to theorizing a global ecological ethics. In Chapter Two, I discuss the modes of resistance in Almanac through the trope of technology, and focus especially on how technology can be appropriated by animistic worldviews within the text. I contrast the technology-centered worldview and the life-centered worldview, and ultimately argue that Silko represents the technology-centered worldview as inherently self-undermining and destructive. A significant part of this project is also my intent to clarify how Silko’s fiction contributes to the growing field of postcolonial ecocritical studies. In representing the garden and the machine through a decolonial lens, I argue, Silko demonstrates how part of the legacy of colonialism is the current environmental crises. In doing so, her work connects the struggles for environmental justice and indigenous sovereignty as twin pursuits.

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© Copyright 2012 Adrianna C. Ely