Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Arkady Plotnitsky

Second Advisor

Lance Duerfahrd

Committee Member 1

Robert Marzec

Committee Member 2

Gary Weissman


This dissertation investigates the relationships between film and the natural world. Building upon extant work in the burgeoning field of Ecocinema, this project attempts to move beyond the scholarly work on Ecocinema that satisfies itself with questions of representation. The issues and arguments taken up here tend to be more programmatic. This work is interested in ecological exchanges, encounters, and relationships, not representations. The first chapter introduces the project, its origins, and the philosophical motivations for working outside the mode of representation. The second chapter excavates a concern for animals and the environment within the margins and subtext of classical film theory, arguing that from the outset, scholars have built their understanding of film at least partly around its relation to the natural world. The third chapter examines closely Godfrey Reggio’s experimental documentary film Koyaanisqatsi in the context of looming ecological disaster, Posthumanism, and an increasingly militarized civilian population. Chapter four turns its attention onto the photography of Henri Cartier- Bresson and animals. This chapter takes up Jacques Derrida’s challenge in The Animal that Therefore I Am to open the question of animals and pathos in a way that is not itself pathetic. The final chapter of this dissertation challenges critical consensus regarding the status of cinema in the work of Thomas Pynchon. This chapter argues that Gravity’s Rainbow, Inherent Vice, and Paul Thomas Anderson’s film adaptation of the novel, configure the cinema as a media ecology.