Professor of English at Hacettepe University, Ankara, and current Vice president of EASLCE (Eurpoean Association for the Study of Literature, Culture and Environment), has published widely on postmodern, material, and feminist ecocriticisms, and ecocritical theory. She is the co-editor of The Future of Ecocriticism: New Horizons (2011), International Perspectives in Feminist Ecocriticism (with Greta Gaard and Simon Estok, 2013), Material Ecocriticism (with Serenella Iovino, 2014), and editor of Ekoeleştiri: Çevre ve Edebiyat (2012) and New International Voices in Ecocriticism (2015). She serves in the editorial boards of several international journals and publication series on environmental topics, including ISLE, Ecozon@, Relations: Beyond Anthropocentrism, andPAN: Philosophy Activism Nature, and Ecocritical Theory and Practice series of Lexington Books. Her recent work is focused on material ecocriticism, posthuman models, and the influence of the Anthropocene discourse in the Environmental Humanities. She has currently edited (with Serenella Iovino) Environmental Humanites: Voices from the Anthropocene, forthcoming this year.
Sites of Narrativity: Storied Matter and Narrative Agencies
Thinking matter as agentic, vibrant, creative, and expressive is integral to the new materialist project of thinking beyond anthropocentrism. This vision also constitutes the intellectual horizon of material ecocriticism, which examines matter in terms of its expressive creativity, its storied dimension. Whether biotic or not, matter in every form is a meaning producing embodiment of the world, a “site of narrativity” with ongoing configurations of signs and meanings that we interpret as stories. Possessing an eloquent and signifying agency, matter participates in the world’s “differential intelligibility” (Barad) as storied matter—a corporeal palimpsest in which stories are inscribed. Interconnected with human lives and practices, storied matter is not a conceptual abstraction, but a novel category that provides a viable model of understanding the intelligible agency of matter, and can be enlisted in the alternative figurations for thinking the world. To think matter storied is also to see it as a “narrative agency,” which is inherent in every material formation from bodies to their atoms making them telling or storied.
In this paper I will examine various sites of narrativity and address the question of how storied matter can be helpful in building disanthropocentric discourses and practices in a world facing potentially catastrophic impacts from climate change and other cataclysmic ecological complexities. Since the idea that matter is storied is found in almost every literary tradition, I will refer to literary examples that are not inherently anthropomorphic. The main focus of the paper, however, is on matter’s narrative power of creating configurations of meaning, which provokes critical reflection on the health of the planet’s increasingly deteriorating biospheres and ecoystems.