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  • 1.
    Grimbeek, Marinette
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies.
    A Newspeak of Extinction: The Disintegration of Meaning in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake2012Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The contingency of language is one of the central concerns of Margaret Atwood’s speculative novel Oryx and Crake (2003), set in a severely climate-changed Canadian landscape.  Atwood’s near-future world is the realisation of the negative effects of extreme globalisation, which, coupled with complete commercialisation, had resulted in utter environmental degradation and irreparable climate change on the one hand, and the development of increasingly daring biotechnologies on the other.  One of the central themes of the novel is that of extinction – not just the impending extinction of the physical environment, but also the imminent extinction of various types of cultural expressions.  As the protagonist has to mediate his experience of an increasingly foreign world, language is portrayed as under threat.  In this paper I explore the notion that the world of Oryx and Crake has necessitated a breakdown in meaning which has resulted in a kind of Orwellian Newspeak – as for example manifested in the incongruous brand names used in the novel.

  • 2.
    Grimbeek, Marinette
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies.
    Book Review of Greening the Maple: Canadian Ecocriticism in Context2015In: Ecozona, ISSN 2171-9594, E-ISSN 2171-9594, Vol. 6, no 2, p. 189-192Article, book review (Refereed)
  • 3.
    Grimbeek, Marinette
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies.
    Forging hybrid identities in selected works by Margaret Atwood2014Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Margaret Atwood’s speculative trilogy – Oryx and Crake (2003), The Year of the Flood (2009) and MaddAddam (2013) – has a post-apocalyptic setting, but also includes frequent flashbacks to a pre-apocalyptic world that is recognisably an extrapolated version of our own. In this near-future world current technologies as well as environmental concerns have had time to develop to their full dystopian (and utopian) potential. In the MaddAddam trilogy our contemporary fear of the hybrid is exploited: by framing nature as hybrid (variable, changeable, dynamic) the boundaries between human–nonhuman and natural–artificial become somewhat blurred. Moreover, these novels are also in many ways generically and thematically hybrid.

     

    Although hybridity can perhaps most clearly be seen in Atwood’s recent trilogy, it is by no means confined to these three novels. In this paper I will look at Atwood’s use of hybridity in the trilogy in the light of some of her earlier work (such as her 1972 novel Surfacing and many of her short stories), in order to show that her concern with hybridity ranges beyond her speculative fiction and that hybridity plays an important role in her body of work.

  • 4.
    Grimbeek, Marinette
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies.
    Framing by Unveiling: Apocalyptic Extrapolation and Hybridity in Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy2014In: Framing Nature: Signs, Stories, and Ecologies of Meaning, 2014Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    As we face the prospect of imminent ecological disaster, the apocalyptic mode appears to be one of the dominant ways of framing nature and ecological discourse. Lawrence Buell famously called apocalypse in The Environmental Imagination “the single most powerful master metaphor that the contemporary environmental imagination has at its disposal” (287). Due to the grand scale often employed in apocalyptic narrative, Ursula K. Heise describes it in Sense of Place and Sense of Planet as “a particular form of imagining the global” (141). Additionally, in Why We Disagree about Climate Change Mike Hulme identifies “presaging apocalypse” as one of the four predominant narrative modes employed to frame climate change. In this paper I do not just use apocalypse in its modern sense as a synonym for catastrophe, but also return to the original meaning of the word to discuss the manner in which unveiling works as a framing device in Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy. Further, I argue that Atwood’s apocalyptic imagination is informed by the idea that meaning is created through hybridity and that her apocalyptic extrapolation provides an alternative, albeit ambiguous, to the nostalgia often associated with an environmental impetus.

    Atwood’s speculative trilogy – Oryx and Crake (2003), The Year of the Flood (2009) and MaddAddam (2013) – has a post-apocalyptic setting, but also includes frequent flashbacks to a pre-apocalyptic world that is recognisably an extrapolated version of our own. In this near-future world current technologies as well as environmental concerns have had time to develop to their full dystopian (and utopian) potential. A speculative text is always to some extent at least doubly framed, since the intratextual world is by and large shown to be other by means of comparison to the historical situation at the text’s conception. Within an outer frame of comparison created through apocalyptic extrapolation, Atwood reveals a possible future principally based on the prevailing apocalyptic framing of nature. In the MaddAddam trilogy our contemporary fear of the hybrid is also exploited: by framing nature as hybrid (variable, changeable, dynamic) the boundaries between human–nonhuman and natural–artificial become blurred. In the trilogy hybridity and apocalypticism are intimately connected, and post-apocalyptic survival depends to a large degree on the acceptance of a hybrid framing of human and nonhuman nature.

  • 5.
    Grimbeek, Marinette
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies (from 2013).
    Förföriska tentakulära ekologier2017In: Aiolos: Tidskrift för litteratur, teori och estetik, ISSN 1400-7770, Vol. 56, p. 101-104Article in journal (Other academic)
  • 6.
    Grimbeek, Marinette
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies.
    Human Pigs and Piggish Humans: Blurring the Boundaries in Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy2014Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The relationship between humans and pigs is fraught with ambiguity. While the pig is the only domesticated species bred solely to be eaten, pigs traditionally live in close proximity to humans and are reared on household waste. This ambivalence is mirrored in their cultural significance: sometimes pigs symbolise luck or happiness, but they are also often regarded as the embodiment of everything unclean.

     

    For the purposes of this paper I am primarily concerned with Pigoons, the genetically modified pigs which figure prominently in Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy. Originally engineered to be vehicles for human organs, these human–animal hybrids exhibit a sense of self that corresponds neither to traditional ideas of the human, nor to human conceptions of animality. In the post-apocalyptic world of the novels, notions of human exceptionalism are questioned and satirised through this blurring of the boundaries between human and nonhuman animals.

     

    This paper investigates the way in which the uncanny physical resemblance between humans and pigs is used in the representation of hybridity in Atwood’s trilogy, and also makes reference to some of the Pigoons’ literary antecedents, as well as to figurations of pigs in contemporary visual art.

  • 7.
    Grimbeek, Marinette
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies (from 2013).
    Imagining the Land2017In: Canadian Literature, ISSN 0008-4360, no 233, p. 148-149Article, book review (Other academic)
  • 8.
    Grimbeek, Marinette
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies (from 2013).
    Levande stenar2018In: Aiolos: Tidskrift för litteratur, teori och estetik, ISSN 1400-7770, no 62, p. 51-53Article in journal (Other academic)
  • 9.
    Grimbeek, Marinette
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies (from 2013).
    Margaret Atwood's Environmentalism: Apocalypse and Satire in the MaddAddam Trilogy2017Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This study considers the way in which Margaret Atwood’s post-apocalyptic MaddAddam Trilogy functions as an environmental project. The main focus is on how the three novels, Oryx and Crake (2003), The Year of the Flood (2009), and MaddAddam (2013), simultaneously draw on and destabilise the apocalypticism inherent in so much environmental discourse, primarily through the use of satire. The trilogy is securely anchored in the concerns of contemporary readers, and transposition of the action to the near future is integral to Atwood’s environmental project: attention is focussed on the present causes of anticipated environmental catastrophe, which readers implicitly are implored to avoid. Atwood’s environmentalism is performed in the interplay between her literary stature, the equivocal content of her work, and the irreverence with which she metaleptically blurs distinctions between fact and fiction, art and commodity, and activism and aesthetics. Whereas the satiric mode serves as a way of avoiding some of the limitations of apocalyptic thinking by maintaining and even creating complexity, it also renders the entire project ambiguous. Uncertainty about the exact environmental injunction presented in the trilogy creates doubts about the degree to which Atwood’s extradiegetic environmental activism should be taken seriously, or conversely. Storytelling is foregrounded in all three novels, and through its concurrent critique of and reliance on market forces and the political potential of art, the MaddAddam Trilogy demonstrates that there is no external position from which the imagination can perform environmentalist miracles. As such, Atwood’s environmental project furthers a profoundly ecological understanding of the world.

  • 10.
    Grimbeek, Marinette
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies (from 2013).
    Margaret Ronda, Remainders: American Poetry at Nature's End2019In: American Studies in Scandinavia, ISSN 0044-8060, Vol. 51, no 2, p. 132-135Article, book review (Other academic)
  • 11.
    Grimbeek, Marinette
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies (from 2013).
    Scientists’ Fictions and The Collapse of Western Civilization2017Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In 2014, respected historians of science Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway published an essay entitled The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future. This message-driven text uses an overtly science-fictional mode to look back at the present from the vantage point of the late twenty-fourth century. Reflecting on our present, the narrator bleakly notes that “knowledge” about fossil fuel use and climate change “did not translate into power” (2). The authors lay much of the blame for their envisaged collapse of western civilisation at the door of neoliberalism, but also present a sharp attack on present scientific practices that, while certainly founded in some regards, makes for rather uneasy reading in a post-truth age.

     

    Oreskes and Conway are by no means the first scholars to turn to genre fiction, yet their contribution is particularly interesting because of their prominent positions as historians of science. In their co-authored nonfiction volume Merchants of Doubt (2010), they explored the manner in which politically-connected scientists with certain financial interests have for decades skewed the public’s understanding—and sometimes delayed US policymaking—on a variety of issues, including smoking, the causes of acid rain and the hole in the ozone layer, DDT use and climate change. In The Collapse of Western Civilization they again present themselves simultaneously as critics of science and scientists in their own right, while also using—and sometimes abusing—the conventions of science fiction to present their environmental message.

     

    The Collapse of Western Civilization illustrates some of the difficulties inherent in translating scholarly work into fiction, especially if the result is presented as prophetic science fiction. In this paper, I focus on the way Oreskes and Conway navigate these tensions through framing their fictional narrative with an introduction, a “Lexicon of Archaic Terms”, notes, and an interview with the authors.

  • 12.
    Grimbeek, Marinette
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies (from 2013).
    Shower Power? Satire and the Zuma Presidency2018Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Already before his election as president of South Africa in 2009, Jacob Zuma was a public figure mired in controversy. Securing power through populism, and amid allegations of rape, corruption and racketeering, Zuma was instrumental in turning the African National Congress against the sitting president Thabo Mbeki, and led the party to another election victory in 2014 before resigning in February 2018.

     

    In this presentation, I give a few examples of the use of satire against the Zuma presidency, focusing on the way in which the showerhead became a metonymy for corruption. The cartoonist Zapiro first started drawing the showerhead on top of Zuma’s head after Zuma testified at his 2006 rape trial – he was acquitted – that he took a shower after unprotected sex to minimise the risk of contracting HIV. In subsequent years, the showerhead was used as the cartoonist’s political barometer, growing and shrinking depending on the issues of the day (and at times disappearing completely), while reminding the public how misguided the president was about HIV infection. The showerhead has become part of South Africa’s popular culture; it has been used both by Zuma’s political opponents to taunt the president, as well as by public protesters.

     

    While the true costs of the Zuma presidency to South Africa are yet to be established, Zuma has provided satirists and political opponents with a seemingly inexhaustible wealth of material. In this context, satire is highly political, and it has served to highlight issues of free speech and censorship. At the same time, however, the role played by satire in bringing about political change is difficult to determine.

  • 13.
    Grimbeek, Marinette
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies (from 2013).
    The Struggle as Pop: Authenticity and Nostalgia in Post-Apartheid Music2018Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 14.
    Grimbeek, Marinette
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies.
    Wholesale Apocalypse: Brand Names in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake2016In: Names, ISSN 0027-7738, E-ISSN 1756-2279, Vol. 64, no 2, p. 88-98, article id 1159448Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Coinages pervade Margaret Atwood’s post-apocalyptic novel Oryx and Crake (2003). Most of the neologisms in the novel denote corporations and their products and form part of a thoroughgoing critique of consumerism. The coinages are jarringly hyperbolic and their orthography often evokes contrary connotations. However, in the thematic context of the novel, coining practices follow certain patterns and function as effective, if ambiguous, satirical tools. On one level, the practice of branding is thoroughly satirized. On another, however, the neologisms point to both the limitations and possibilities of satire when dealing with the themes addressed in the novel: commoditization, environmental damage on a planetary scale, and a vision of the imminent end of humanity itself.

1 - 14 of 14
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