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Petrofiction and Environmental Destruction

“Big Oil's Big Reach: Petrofiction and the Industry's Impact on Diverse Populations”

—Tracy Lassiter, Department of English: Literature and Criticism

In this presentation, Lassiter discusses petrofiction’s significance to this historical moment, suggesting that multinational oil corporations have replaced governments as forms of neocolonial power. Specifically, she uses fictional texts from three global regions to highlight the oil industry’s devastating impact on diverse communities and individuals. She briefly summarizes three novels and one short story to point out petroleum-related violence and exploitation. She concludes by showing that this literature offers us an important warning knell. As consumers and voting citizens, we need this awareness as we make important spending choices and vote for leaders who will enact international political and security measures on our behalf.

“Disaster and Dialogue: Environmental Destruction as Discourse"

—Brandon Galm, Department of English: Literature and Criticism

This paper explores the ways that place is constructed (in both the physical and fictional realms), and how that construction is, many times, hidden under layers of hegemonic ideologies. In the aftermath of environmental disasters those layers are revealed and can then be questioned, by using popular representations of disaster to guide and deepen our understanding of how those ideologies become embedded in culture and place, thereby offering possible alternatives to those constructions.

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