Life Like Ours: An Ecocritical And Animal Studies Examination Of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Bekah Ballard (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Zackary Vernon

Abstract: I explore the extent to which the work of John Steinbeck can be considered as contributing to a body of environmental literature, in particular in his short novel Cannery Row (1945). My initial chapter investigates Steinbeck’s source material in writing Cannery Row, that is, the setting of Cannery Row itself and his scientific travel narrative, composed five years prior to Cannery Row, titled The Log from the Sea of Cortez and published in 1951. The subsequent chapter suggests that Cannery Row can be considered post-human in its engagement with both nature and technology, which complicates the way we understand Steinbeck’s humans. In the third chapter, I consider Steinbeck’s representation of animals and the way they come to communicate with the humans in Steinbeck’s worlds, both fictional and actual. Lastly, the coda speaks on behalf of current events we are facing in the crisis of COVID-19 and how these events make visible the presence of non-human interlocutors within an ongoing global climate crisis. My aim in this work, broadly, is to highlight how Steinbeck’s fiction and non-fiction becomes deeply important within contemporary discursive spaces, as we try to understand and cope with a changing planet.

Additional Information

Ballard, B. (2020). Life Like Ours: An Ecocritical And Animal Studies Examination Of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. Unpublished Master’s Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2020
Steinbeck, Ecocriticism, Animal Studies, Environmental Literature

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