Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Katherine N. Luke

Committee Members

LaToya Eaves, Solange Muñoz


This thesis shows how Black and queer-authored Southern climate fiction can serve as a guide for constructing better futures. Established as two separate academic papers, the first chapter analyzes two climate fiction novels set in the U.S. Southern landscape: Rivers Solomon’s An Unkindness of Ghosts and Tenea Johnson’s Smoketown. Through this analysis, I name three key commonalities between both narratives that I believe are critical to facilitating future change: creating community, envisioning resistance, and fostering empathy and accountability. My identification of these three themes and discussion of their articulations is grounded in the work of Black geographies and queer ecologies, and my examination of these texts continually moves alongside the literature of these subfields. The first theme, creating community, identifies how these novels show community formation and solidarity in their narratives. The second theme, envisioning resistance, examines how communities then push back against and upend the hegemonic expectations of their geographies. The final theme, fostering empathy and accountability, breaks apart the relationships between humans and nonhumans, revealing an ethics of care through predominantly land-based practices. My second chapter seeks to put the principles I identify in these novels into practice by observing how they manifest in the space of the independent bookstore. I focus on the bookstore specifically because of its explicit connection to fiction and literature more broadly. In this chapter I suggest that these bookstore spaces are ones of collaboration, community, solidarity, and care – emerging as spaces of strength and hopefulness within and beyond the context of the current political and environmental climate. I spoke with eight owners and employees of bookstores across the U.S. South. Using narrative analysis, I examined commonalities that led this second chapter, similar to the first, to use the three key themes of creating community, envisioning resistance, and fostering empathy and accountability to analyze and synthesize these conversations and the literary geographies of the U.S. South.

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