Zoomorphism and Human Biology in Barbara Kingsolver’s "Prodigal Summer"


  • Ashleigh McIntyre University of Newcastle




Barbara Kingsolver, Prodigal Summer, zoomorphism, climate fiction, ecofeminism


This article explores the conceptual difficulties that arise when fiction explores humankind’s primordial ties to nature, specifically regarding gender representation. I examine how an emphasis on biology demonstrates humankind’s innate connection to nature, while simultaneously perpetuating a problematic, essentialist view of gender. Using Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer (2000) as a case study, I present two perspectives from which to interpret her ecofeminist approach. Firstly, I argue that Kingsolver employs zoomorphism as an effective strategy to override essentialist representations of sexuality. Secondly, I use Hans Gumbrecht’s theory of presence to contextualise the representation of biology and claim that Prodigal Summer attempts to dilute a much broader conceptual binary between humankind and nature.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Ashleigh McIntyre, University of Newcastle

Dr Ash McIntyre is an academic living and working on Awabakal land, and is affiliated with the University of Newcastle, Australia, where she is also a Student Advocate in the Academic Division. Her research focuses on environmental literature and theory,  research spanning  sincerity in environmental fiction, gender, ecoacoustics, and posthumanism.