Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of English

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, iii, 49 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Paul Stasi

Committee Members

James Lilley


anthropocene, death drive, despair, escape velocity, frontier, overdetermination, Despair in literature, American literature

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


This thesis will address the larger conversation occurring within anthropocene studies through a more conscious treatment of despair as a vital force in our moving forward into an overdetermined future. Using three primary texts, William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, Anne Sexton’s The Awful Rowing Toward God, and Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West, I will demonstrate how despair allows us to confront the abyss that is species extinction, a future for which hyperobjects act as a harbinger or messianic power. Taking a position opposite the more hopeful critics working within anthropocene studies, my paper proposes that we must utilize despair in order to confront the overdetermination of our future by hyperobjects, and become comfortable with the ideation of a non-future. This thesis applies two properties of hyperobjects that Timothy Morton refers to as viscosity and nonlocality to demonstrate the relationships between the characters and speakers of each of my primary texts with the overdetermined entities that they come in contact with. These overdetermined entities range from Southern history and its inextricable relationship with slavery, a Christian God figure, and the ruins of our present society deposited within knowledge archives, which would provide the instructional materials for future societies to fabricate a new generation of hyperobjects.