Stockholms universitet

Johanna KoivunenUtbildningsadministratör


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  • Matter Manifesting Itself: Understanding Nonhuman Agency in Ovid’s Metamorphoses

    2022. Johanna Koivunen.

    This thesis examines transformations of human characters into trees, stones, and water sources in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The current climate crisis is partly the result of a view of nature as a passive object, or inert matter, that humans without consequences can exploit. Using primarily the ecocritical theory new materialism, this thesis is a study of how nonhuman organisms can be assumed to have agency in order to alter this view of nature. The characters in the Metamorphoses that transform have different forms of agency before and after transformation depending on the body they inhabit. With close reading of the transformations themselves and the portrayal of the characters after transformation, the thesis finds that the material reality of the body determines what a body can do. Thus, it is possible to use the Metamorphoses to do a contemporary ecocritical reading that shows how a narrative can portray nature and nonhuman organisms with as much importance as human organism. By understanding the agency of nature and find it to be an active subject instead of only an object, it can change the relationship humans have with nature to one that is less exploitative.

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