The Canon

Discussing the canonization of Crichton’s Jurassic Park as ecocriticism creates an interesting dilemma. While it is shrugged off by many in academia as a work of popular fiction, it asks many important question that have the potential to earn it a spot in the canon. The simplest way to sum up Jurassic Park’s place in the canon is “passing”. Jurassic park, at its initial release represented an incredibly popular work that could have garnered the movement a tremendous amount of publicity, and ultimately benefitted it in the long run. Unfortunately the popularity gained by the large-scale release earned the work a reputation as merely a work of popular fiction. Since the release of the novel the ecocriticism movement has become a strong genre in its own right. While novels that asked many of the questions Jurassic Park asked were in short supply in 1990, they are not in todays world. There are just too may superior substitutes for Jurassic Park to garner it a strong argument for long-term canonization. In the short term however Jurassic Park is a prime candidate for canonization as an well-known example of phase-2 ecocriticism.

Works Cited

One thought on “The Canon

  1. Your exploration of the history and rise to significance of the ecocriticism canon of literature is thorough and very well done. It prepared me to view “Jurassic Park” and the themes within its narrative from a perspective that supports the argument of your analysis. The contextual background that you map from the 60’s up until the publication of “Jurassic Park” provides a different type of background than the one I provided in my project on “Catch-22,” which primarily focused on Heller’s background rather than the background of the war novel canon. For your subject matter and the overall argument that your project makes, this was a very effective choice because your narrative is less autobiographical in nature and your analysis revolves around the question of its place within the ecocriticism canon. In addition, your inclusion of Scott Slovich’s formal definition and Gregg Gerrard’s ideas puts the genre in relatively clear terms that provide a general framework for your arguments regarding Michael Crichton’s place in its canon. The second section of your project clarifies the distinction between the two different phases of ecocriticism through a descriptive summary of each. “Jurassic Park” appears to be, as you said, a book within the Phase Two subset but with similar aspects of the Phase One in its relevance to the relationship between nature and society. Chrichton’s use of realism, specifically early in the novel while summarizing the history of genetic science and then seamlessly switching the to fictional history of the InGen company that runs Isla Nebula and Jurassic Park. However, the more obvious relation to the ecocriticism genre is through its exploration of the relationship between “nature” and “fake nature” as man tries to reverse the natural order. It forces both the visitors to Jurassic Park in the narrative and us, as readers, to re-evaluate our definition of what is “natural” and what can only mimic nature, like the genetically recreated prehistoric life on Isla Nebula. In reference to your final argument regarding the novel’s canonization, in some ways, I do agree that “Jurassic Park” does not hold the place in the literary canon of ecocriticism that the significance of its central arguments deserve. However, I also believe that in this case, a distinction must be made between the popular realm of a canon and the pedagogical/anthologized realm of a canon because “Jurassic Park” is easily the most widely known work of ecocriticism in our culture today. Thus, the question becomes: How did Jurassic Park fail to secure a spot in the ecocriticism canon despite the fact that millions of people were exposed to its narrative through a very successful motion picture? In my opinion, the answer is a combination of two key aspects. First, the original film was released in a ecological climate that had not yet reached the panic-mode of the current Global Warming era popularized by films like “An Inconvenient Truth.” Thus, the ecocriticism of the narrative did not carry as much significance with viewers. Secondly, I believe that Spielberg’s interpretation plays up the more dramatic and thrilling aspects of the plot over the more subdued critiques regarding “nature” and “fake nature.” As a result, “Jurassic Park” was received as an action-packed plot set within an ecological anomaly rather than a plot that accentuates the key ecological questions surrounding man’s attempt to play God.

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