`"A Better-Informed Citizen of North America: Environmental Memory and Frames of Justice in William T. Vollmann’s Transnational Metafiction
Keywords:Environmental Justice, Globalization, Memory , Metafiction, William T. Vollmann
This article proposes environmental memory as an approach to reframing environmental justice in transnational contexts through the work of U.S. author, William T. Vollmann. Combining recent theorizations of environmental memory with Nancy Fraser’s “politics of framing,” I argue that Vollmann reimagines the political spaces of social ecology in the twenty-first century by metafictionally dramatizing the various contexts, uses, limits, and possibilities of narrative. I focus on two novels, The Ice-Shirt (1990) and Imperial (2009), to illustrate how Vollmann constructs environmental memory as a challenge to the interpretive frame of the nation-state in an era of anthropogenic change. As with other contributions to this issue, the original occasion of this essay was for a publication following the 2014 symposium, “Rethinking Environmental Consciousness,” at Mid Sweden University. Since then, the intensification of borders and reactionary nationalisms under neoliberalism have made the reimagining of transnational connections even more urgent. As this reading contends, Vollmann’s profuse narratives do not begin to exhaust the possibilities of rewriting that history. Rather, they suggest a modest starting point.
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