Keywords for My Dissertation

Throughout this dissertation, certain words are going to come up again and again, so before you dive in, it’s important to know what the hell I’m talking about, right? With that in mind, here are the most critical terms you’ll encounter (and I’ll add more as needed):

Anthropocene: a proposed geological epoch dating from the commencement of significant human impact on Earth’s geology and ecosystems, including, but not limited to, anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change.

EcoGothic: “how nature … is gothic: how it constructs fear and monstrosity, and how nature and place as a whole can be haunting. Gothic tropes – monstrosity, imprisonment, the uncanny, oppression and repression, boundaries – are manifest not only in animal bodies, but also in the body of nature, through land, water, air, and plants” (Cox, “EcoGothic”).

Ecohorror: “scenarios in which the environment itself horrifically strikes back at humanity, punishing our abuse of not only the world around us but of its living, breathing, non-human avatars as well” (Beard, “Eco-horror, Defined”).

Ecophobia: an ethical undervaluing of the natural environment that can result in cataclysmic environmental change. The term was coined by George F. Will in a September 18, 1988 Chicago Sun-Times article entitled “The Politics of Ecophobia.”

Eco-trauma: “the harm we, as humans, inflict upon our natural surroundings, or the injuries we sustain from nature in its unforgiving iterations…. The traumas we perpetuate in an ecosystem through pollution and unsustainable resource management inevitably return to harm us” (Narine 9).

Gender: “Gender refers to the characteristics of women, men, girls and boys that are socially constructed. This includes norms, behaviours and roles associated with being a woman, man, girl or boy, as well as relationships with each other. As a social construct, gender varies from society to society and can change over time.

“Gender is hierarchical and produces inequalities that intersect with other social and economic inequalities. Gender-based discrimination intersects with other factors of discrimination, such as ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability, age, geographic location, gender identity and sexual orientation, among others. This is referred to as intersectionality.

“Gender interacts with but is different from sex, which refers to the different biological and physiological characteristics of females, males and intersex persons, such as chromosomes, hormones and reproductive organs” (“Gender and health”)

(The) Gothic: a literary aesthetic characterized by an environment of fear, the threat of supernatural events, and the intrusion of the past upon the present. Gothic fiction is distinguished from other forms of horror or supernatural stories by the specific theme of the present being haunted by the past.

Misogyny (aka “the oldest prejudice”): hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women. It is a form of sexism that is used to keep women at a lower social status than men, thus maintaining the social roles of patriarchy. Misogyny has been widely practiced for thousands of years. It is reflected in art, literature, human societal structure, historical events, mythology, philosophy, and religion worldwide.

Monstrous-Feminine: “a sub-genre…interested in confronting female transgression through the portrayal of women as dangerous creatures, or monsters” (Olsson, “Thelma”). Defined by Barbara Creed in The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis in 1993, the term encompasses monsters such as the archaic mother, monstrous womb, vampire, possessed monster, witch, and castrating mother.

Queer: an umbrella term for people who are not heterosexual or are not cisgender. Originally meaning “strange” or “peculiar,” in the late 1980s, queer activists began to reclaim the word as a deliberately provocative and politically radical alternative to the more assimilationist branches of the LGBT community. In the 21st century, queer became increasingly used to describe a broad spectrum of non-normative sexual or gender identities and politics. It is also used as a verb; to “queer” something is the act of taking something and looking at it through a lens that makes it strange or troubles it in some way.

Queer Ecologies: a perspective which views nature, biology, and sexuality through the lens of queer theory. It objects to what it considers heterosexist notions of nature, drawing from science studies, ecofeminism, environmental justice, and queer geography. This perspective breaks apart various “dualisms” that exist within human understanding of nature and culture.

Trans*: “Trans is an umbrella term to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth.

“Trans people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including (but not limited to) transgender, non-binary, or genderqueer” (Stonewall).


Beard, D. Eco-horror, Defined. Society for Cinema and Media Studies.

Cox, N. R. EcoGothic. Of Mountains and Monsters.

Narine, A. (2015). Introduction: Eco-Trauma Cinema. In A. Narine (Ed.), Eco-Trauma Cinema (pp. 1–24). Routledge.

Olsson, E. (2019, June 6). How Thelma Re-Defines the Monstrous Feminine in Horror. Medium.

Stonewall. (2019, March 27). What does trans mean? Stonewall.

World Health Organization. Gender and health. World Health Organization.

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