English 149-1 - Spring, 2020

Topics in Literature

    Topic: Climate Change and Literature

Class Information

Instructor: Menely, Tobias
CRN: 64101
Time: MWF 1:10-2:00
Location: 125 Olson


    In this seminar, we'll read five novels in which climate change (flood and drought, strange weather and changing ecosystems) shapes the action, requiring characters to reimagine themselves, their sense of home, their communities, and their futures. We'll think about why climate change is difficult to narrate and represent, about the affordances of different modes (realism, science fiction, fantasy, myth), and about what happens when setting and plot, environmental causality and human agency, become interconnected or indistinguishable. We'll ask how narrative form organizes time: memory and anticipation, slow violence and cataclysmic rupture, the conjunction of geological and socio-historical timescales. We'll reflect on the emotional dimensions of climate change: denial, dread, and hope. Above all, we'll ask how climate change fiction helps us to imagine our shared planetary future, the era taking shape, with increasing rapidity, in our lifetimes.


    Group Final Exam Project 15%
    Online Discussion Forum 45%
    Two Five-Page Essays 40%


    Parable of the Sower, Butler
    Friend of the Earth, Boyle
    New York 2140, Robinson
    Gun Island, Ghosh
    The Swan Book, Wright