Extrapolation

Ecology without Us

Ecological Succession and History in Earth Abides

Extrapolation (2018), 59, (3), 255–280.

Abstract

George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides (1949) is a classic American post-apocalypse novel, but it is also a thought experiment examining humanity’s changing role on Earth that closely reflects the shift from a deterministic paradigm of ecological succession to one emphasizing contingency and human impact. Enmeshed in a community of scientists involved in the debate, Stewart creates a theory of environmentally embedded history in which human agency is understood as a partnership with the natural environment. By attending to Stewart’s network of scientific influences, this article seeks to transcend the “antagonistic wilderness” reading of post-apocalyptic ecologies.

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Polefrone, Phillip R.