Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Climate Fiction, Catastrophe, and Cultural Production

ENGL 002.401
also offered as: COML 002
TR 10:30-12

This course thinks of ways the novel and other forms of cultural production (such as films, poems, activist work, and sculpture) may be read as climate models for understanding and bearing witness to the ecological devastation affecting the planet and our lives. As climate models, these artistic forms dramatize our entanglement with an increasingly warming world: they help us see the ways in which human action and imagination construct the climate, while also granting insight into the ways climate shapes our own ways of navigating the world. Our animating questions will be: how can the extreme spatial and temporal scales of climate change be rendered visible in narrative form? how do colonialism and race intersect with Anthropocene discourse? what solutions does art offer for survival, healing, and even potentially reaching a more just future? Open to students with no previous experience of literary study or film & multi-disciplinary discussion is encouraged!

A sample of course materials: Margaret Atwood, Year of the Flood; Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony; Jeff VanderMeer, Borne; Barbara Kingsolver, Flight Behavior; Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower; Children of Men (dir. Alfonso CuarĂ³n); The Road (dir. Jon Hillcoat, written by Cormac McCarthy ), Snowpiercer (dir. Bong Joon-ho); Beasts of the Southern Wild (dir. Benh Zeitlin).

Course requirements include: oral presentations, a final paper, and a creative project.

fulfills requirements