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Hope At SeaPossible Ecologies in Oceanic Literature$
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Teresa Shewry

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780816691579

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816691579.001.0001

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Endurance, Ecology, Empire

Endurance, Ecology, Empire

(p.27) Chapter 1 Endurance, Ecology, Empire
Hope At Sea

Teresa Shewry

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter explores writers’ struggles to illuminate hope as these struggles become interlocked with the precarious endurance of human and nonhuman beings in a context of prolonged and severe environmental upheaval. Focusing on English writer Samuel Butler’s utopian novel Erewhon (1970 [1872]), the chapter traces how sweeping disregard for human and nonhuman lives is figured as improvement, transformation, and new worlds in a number of European New Zealand colonial archives. Turning to The Bone People, first published in 1984 by Keri Hulme, a writer of Māori (Ngāi Tahu) and European heritage, this chapter examines a language of endurance and survival that animates Hulme’s and numerous contemporary writers’ reading of actual conditions as well as the hope that they evoke (Hulme 1986). Such language complicates utopian writers’ emphasis on alternative worlds, improvement, and transformation, providing a way of selectively directing care toward both the living and the futures that they might shape. Writers’ concerns for endurance turn this book toward literary forms that insist on a porous, murky border between the present world and promising, imagined futures.

Keywords:   hope, environmental, New Zealand, utopian writers, endurance, present world, imagined futures

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