Sarah Collier

By William & Mary

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Working the Garden: Women and Religion in Apocalyptic Fiction

My Honors thesis focuses on post-apocalyptic contemporary fiction, specifically Margaret Atwood’s trilogy "MaddAddam" and Octavia Butler’s two novels "Parable of the Sower" and "Parable of the Talents." I will examine their depiction of religion in the structures of societies before and after their fall, and its influence on the women in this environment. Butler and Atwood’s fictions both depict women’s roles as rebuilders of societies in tandem with the women’s eventual remaking of religion. I will concentrate on environmentally conscious speculative fiction’s scrutiny of failures of institutions of power, environmental management, and gender equality, which are on-going, real-world problems. A major question that I hope to answer is what Atwood and Butler’s solutions look like to these problems, and whether or not they are truly sustainable. I intend to travel to the University of Toronto to look at Margaret Atwood’s drafts and editorial material, as well as the Huntington Library in California which contains Octavia Butler’s alternative versions of her "Parable" novels including a near complete third "Parable" text. Reading these materials would be crucial in interpreting the authors' intentions in their novels and the viability of what they imagine a new society would look like in a post-apocalyptic world. 

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Sarah H. Collier
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Chris Duty
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Nancy and James Morrison
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Allison Adkins
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