Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: Eco-anxiety, Ecological Thought and the Fabulative Turn in Nordic Noir TV: Investigating EcoNoir from the Arctic to the Antipodes
Contributor(s): Sanderson, Coralie Gail Jarvis  (author); Hopgood, Fincina  (supervisor)orcid ; Hamilton, Jennifer M  (supervisor)orcid ; Turnbull, Sue
Conferred Date: 2024-03-28
Copyright Date: 2023
Thesis Restriction Date until: 2026-03-28
Handle Link:

In the new millennium, humans are increasingly confronted by the dire consequences, both current and predicted, of a changing climate. As the environmental crisis deepens and uncertainty percolates, individual and collective engagement with discomfiting ecological thought is largely unavoidable. The seemingly insoluble quandary has fomented a range of clinically recognised psychological responses which congregate under the umbrella term of eco-anxiety. In this thesis, I investigate the human predisposition to confront and attempt to assuage contemporaneous fears through storytelling on screen. I direct my focus toward the medium of television and the manifestation of this proclivity in the internationally recognised genre of Scandinavian serialised television crime drama known as Nordic Noir. In observing the infiltration of ecological themes and supernatural, folkloric, and Gothic tropes into Nordic Noir productions over the last two decades, I identify the germination and global proliferation of a discrete and replicable sub-genre which, I argue, specifically reflects and responds to the psychological complexities inherent in eco-anxiety. I refer to this novel form of cultural expression as EcoNoir. In EcoNoir crime dramas, I observe that detectives are invariably drawn into cases of murder, missing children and nefarious eco-crimes; however, it is the ways in which these supernaturally charged local stories are told and how their global relevance affectively resonates with viewers, which is at the heart of this thesis.

The confluence of rationality and irrationality in the sub-genre of EcoNoir introduces a narrative ambiguity to the conventions of crime drama which disrupts the cathartic relief from tension that viewers traditionally expect of the form. EcoNoir, like its film noir progenitors, resists definitive resolution and thus, when conflated with environmental themes, authentically reflects the ambiguous nature of the climate crisis and the concomitant uncertainty that stalks the global zeitgeist.

The study reveals a correlation between ecological thought, eco-anxiety and the global human imaginary by tracing the transnational distribution and replication of this fusion of social realism, environmental crime fiction, noir and supernatural fabulation from the Arctic to the Antipodes. Replicating a distinct suite of tropes and conventions, disparately geolocated television creators and practitioners weave local ecological concerns with representations of their own folklore and mythologies to create glocalised productions that reflect the global nature of the climate crisis and respond to universally shared concerns. As producers and purveyors of long-form serialised television, digital streaming platforms facilitate the transmission of complex narratives from culturally specific locations to the wider world: stories that echo our commonalities and foster an appreciation that humans (and non-humans alike) are enmeshed in a shared existential dilemma.

I employ a methodology of close textual analysis and draw on theoretical and scholarly sources in psychology, philosophy, literary and screen studies, environmental humanities, folklore studies, peace studies and gender studies, to examine seven EcoNoir serial television productions as case studies of the sub-genre. These are the German series Dark (2017-2020), the Swedish Jordskott (2016-2017), the French Zone Blanche (Black Spot) (2017-2019), the British Fortitude (2015-2018), the Swedish and French co-production Midnattsol (Midnight Sun) (2016), the Colombian Frontera Verde (Green Frontier) (2019) and the AustralianThe Gloaming (2020-). The analyses will reveal the ways in which the sub-genre of EcoNoir, both cognitively and affectively, reflects the multifarious environmental crises currently unfolding around the planet and the diverse manifestations of eco-anxiety which these crises evoke – from the relatively benign melancholy of solastalgia to the extremes of violent psychosis, by way of narratives ranging from nihilistic defeatism through to tentative optimism and hope.

Publication Type: Thesis Doctoral
Fields of Research (FoR) 2020: 360505 Screen media
470507 Comparative and transnational literature
470509 Ecocriticism
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2020: 130201 Communication across languages and culture
130303 Environmental ethics
280122 Expanding knowledge in creative arts and writing studies
HERDC Category Description: T2 Thesis - Doctorate by Research
Description: Please contact if you require access to this thesis for the purpose of research or study.
Appears in Collections:School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Thesis Doctoral

Files in This Item:
2 files
File Description SizeFormat 
Show full item record
Google Media

Google ScholarTM


Items in Research UNE are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.