The Energy of Stories: Postcolonialism, the Petroleum Unconscious, and the Crude Side of Cultural Ecology
- Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities
- University of Nebraska Press
- Volume 6, Numbers 2-3, Spring-Fall 2019
- pp. 116-135
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This article sets out to discuss the narrativization of energy from the perspective of a postcolonially informed criticism of fictional engagements with oil retrieval and consumption. It describes the reliance of characters and plots on oil by endorsing the concept of a “petroleum unconscious” and links its findings to current research in the environmental humanities that understands literary fiction as a form of cultural ecology, arguing that this rather idealistic model of the functions of fiction might be supplemented by the notion of an “affirmative paradiscourse.” Understanding the cultural-ecological trio of metadiscourse, counterdiscourse, and interdiscourse, together with affirmative paradiscourse, helps to describe how cultures negotiate the meaning of energy and oil consumption through literary fiction. The article also argues that readerly interpretive stance is as important as textual composition in defining petrofiction and petrocriticism.