Publication Date

Winter 1-18-2023


This paper examines two speculative examinations of humanity as a unified species and agent of ecological change: Ursula K. Le Guin’s Hainish Cycle and the rights of nature movement. Le Guin’s Cycle imagines the slow interplanetary reintegration of human polities against a backdrop of cultural and environmental difference. I read the novels of the Cycle as an allegory for the rights of nature movement, which seeks to synthesize traditional and modern knowledge in a legal solution to ecological crisis. Both discourses, I argue, productively imagine a new historical understanding of humanity’s place on Earth, but they provide a weak theory of law’s capacity to initiate and institutionalize this new understanding. In place of a static theory of history and legal revolution, I propose a dynamic view of how narrative projects like the rights of nature contribute to cultural and political change. This comparative reading shows the utility of speculation in law and literature.


Law and Literature



Second Department

Environmental Studies