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Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English Composition



First Reader/Committee Chair

Henry, Holly


Prominent within various scientific journals, news media outlets, and online publications are conversations surrounding what is dubbed “climate anxiety.” This wide-stemmed social unrest is caused, in large part, by the unrelenting, consistent data from the scientific community reporting rising sea levels, species extinction, and “record-breaking” heatwaves as well as an increasing average of global temperatures, that seem to top the next every year for the past decade. However, an underlying thread to these reports remains largely consistent. Unless serious regard is given to our natural surroundings and how we have come to interact within it, regions of the Earth considered desirable for human life will likely become uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable to humans and other species. When addressed so simply and plainly, it seems that the response to such life-altering implications ought to be simple: do whatever it takes to ensure that a diversity of life, including that of humankind, can continue on the planet Earth. Voices of the scientific community have decreed that a driving force behind the lackadaisical approach to deterring such dire climatological circumstances, is the inability to grasp the immense scope of climate change issues.

This thesis, then, aims at proposing a directive to correct this problematic mentality, and a specific generation to combat this nature. Using the lens of ecocriticism, the study of literature and the environment, combined with cutting-edge theoretical findings in the field, I will focus on the literary portrayal of climate change within young-adult dystopian fiction.

While regarding the scholarship on the recent increase of YA fiction that takes a critical approach to human ethics and the portrayal of the demise of the natural environment in those texts, I will examine how this trend responds to my ideas of young-adult fiction functioning within Ecocriticism. Moreover, you will see a pattern charting how literature can revolutionize and evolve the mind frame of human ethics on a planetary scale, starting with the young adult readers. Further, I will highlight how these ideologies could and ought to be incorporated into a composition classroom. Composition already has a strong history of grounding itself in the notion of identity, and how contingent factors (social, political, economic, ecological, etc.) are integrated into the construction of that identity. This thesis poses that if we can introduce a sense of how those factors affect our ability to act in the natural world and potential consequences of these actions by way of pop culture outlets like YA Climate Fiction, readers can begin to re-shape our identities and actions, individually and collectively, towards Ecocritical ethics and awareness.