Climate Change Fiction

Winter 2015-2016


Benjamin Morgan

Does climate change have a literary history? In this course, we will explore this question by examining literary texts that confront the imaginative challenges presented by anthropogenic climate change. We will read fiction that envisions the geological origin and end of the planet; the detrimental effects of industrialization and resource depletion; humanity as a species or as a population; and worlds in which nature has ceased to exist. Departing from usual literary-historical periods, we will take as our historical boundaries the geological period known as the Anthropocene (ca. 1780 to the present), in which the human species has begun to reshape the climate and the planet. Authors may include Jules Verne, Charles Dickens, Camille Flammarion, H.G. Wells, Gabriel Tarde, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ursula K. Le Guin, Margaret Atwood, and David Mitchell. Alongside these fictions of climate change, we will engage with a rapidly expanding field of critical theory that addresses the Anthropocene, including work by Michel Serres, Bruno Latour, Ursula Heise, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Rob Nixon, and Timothy Morton. (B, H)