Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Susan M. Comfort, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Veronica Watson, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

David B. Downing, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Alexis Lothian, Ph.D.

Fifth Advisor

Ardel Haefele-Thomas


The issues that Gothic and speculative fiction most often confront deal with the deepest and darkest of human fears and concerns. Much Gothic and speculative fiction gets people to confront their fears in the way that it can address the problems of the present through imagined worlds. Might rethinking the value of imagined worlds move us toward a more-inclusive justice? This dissertation explores the human, human fears, and human imagination in Gothic and speculative colonial-themed texts to understand the ways that this kind of fantastic fiction has created and continues to address structures of power—how it critiques race, gender, sexuality, nature, and the human. Each chapter traces the development of a growing awareness of ruptures in our environment caused by these structures of power that are the consequence of a specific understanding of the human. Exploring a gradual progression of decolonial world making in H. Rider Haggard, Michelle Cliff, and Octavia Butler’s work can repair deep schisms and ruptures that colonialism, via extension of the human, has set in place between race/gender/sexuality and our environment to renegotiate our consciousness, rewrite the human, and un-trouble nature.

What I offer is a way to move us toward healing—a form of reparative reading that takes up a decolonial, queer, ecocritical lens to interrogate the human. A framework for decolonial world making emerges through my readings that I call decolonial queer ecologies, a framework which resituates knowledges and undoes the internalization of a logic of coloniality by exploring and/or rediscovering queer-inclusive notions of nature by deconstructing the human in Haggard, Cliff, and Butler’s work. Reading strategies for decolonial queer world making emerge that act as a form of reparative reading in ways that help us to see common goals and purposes that have been hidden by a colonial-driven understanding of what it means to be human, and in turn not-quite-human, nonhuman, and more-than-human. In sum, I argue that reading Haggard, Cliff, and Butler’s texts moves us toward a decolonial queer ecology through the ways we can discover reading strategies for decolonial world making to reimagine new natures and queer ways of being.