Current Students

Elizabeth Byrne

Familiar Landscapes Disappear: My research explores how the novel can utilise apocalyptic environmental disaster to examine historical, national, social, gender and identity boundaries and meanings. In most contemporary apocalyptic fiction, survival is the primary goal for the male protagonist in a world in which a savage ‘natural order’ has been ‘restored’. Female characters are typically vulnerable, defined by their biology and sexuality, dependent on men, raped, marginalised and 'meatified'. Even in highly imaginative visions of transformed worlds, the principles of male strength and power as embedded in a 'natural order’ remain. I will argue that this is a failure to recognise or accept the extent to which these principles are constructed and privileged. Is it possible to create an alternative fate for female characters? I will examine how ecofeminist writers such as Margaret Atwood have engaged with more radical transformations. My novel will develop from this research and is set a decade after a cascade of environmental disasters across the world, including a meltdown in a nuclear plant in England, has devastated Ireland. The protagonist is exiled from a community of survivors and must make her way through the catastrophically transformed landscape of Ireland to find a safe place to call home.

Supervisory team: Dr Glenn Patterson, English (QUB), Dr Catherine Gander, English (QUB).

Start Date: September 2016