Saturday, January 31, 2015

 

Temple University Class Studies Cli-Fi Genre Novels to Brace for Climate Change Change

 
PRESS RELEASE:
contact: http://cli-fi.net

University courses on global warming have become common nationwide
now, and Prof.
Ted Howell's pioneering literature class at Temple University this spring 2015
semester has it all -- alarming elements: rising oceans,
displaced populations, political conflict, endangered animals. The
students are reading and discussing climate-themed sci fi movels and
cli-fi novels to
learn more about how the arts can impact climate change issues.

The goal of this class, it needs to be said, is not of course to try  to marshal evidence for
climate change as a human-caused crisis, or to measure its effects --
the reality and severity of it are already taken as given -- but
rather how to think
about it, prepare for it and respond to it. As readers.

Instead of scientific
texts, the class focuses on sci fi novels and a heavy dose of the
mushrooming subgenre of speculative fiction known as climate fiction,
or ''cli fi"


Speculative fiction allows a kind of scenario-imagining, not only
about the unfolding crisis but also about adaptations and survival
strategies. The time isn't to reflect on the end
of the world, but on how to meet it. The class wants to apply their literature
skills pragmatically to this problem.

The class reflects a push by universities to meld traditionally
separate disciplines teaching both literature and environmental and
climate change
issues.

The Temple University undergraduate course also shows how broadly most of academia and a
younger generation have moved beyond debating global warming to
accepting it as one of society's central challenges.

Howell's students for the most part
tend to share his enthusiasm, eagerly discussing on blogs and in class the
role that sci fi and cli fi novels can play in galvanizing people
around an issue.

To some extent, the course is feeding off a larger literary trend --
novels set against a backdrop of ruinous climate change have rapidly
gained in number, popularity and critical acclaim over the last few
years, works like "The Windup Girl," by Paolo Bacigalupi; "Finitude,"
by Hamish MacDonald. Well-known writers have joined the
trend, including Barbara Kingsolver.

And with remarkable speed -- Kingsolver's book was
published less than 3 years ago -- those works have landed on
syllabuses at colleges. They have turned up in courses on literature
and on environmental issues, like the one at TEMPLE , or in a similar
but broader class, "The Political Ecology of Imagination," part of a
master's degree program in liberal studies at the University of
Wisconsin at Milwaukee. This thing is going nationwide. from, UCLA to
the Oregon State Universtiy to Harvard and Tufts. Temple, too.

Howell's class is open to undergraduate students.
Climate novels fit into a long tradition of speculative fiction that
pictures the future after assorted [climate] catastrophes. First came external
forces like aliens or geological upheaval, and then, in the postwar
period, came disasters of our own making such as man made global warming.

Novels like "On the Beach," by Nevil Shute in 1957 mattered. Sci fi novels with climate themes and cli fi novels can matter, too.. Cli fi movies, too.



The sci fi climate-change canon dates back at least as far as "The Drowned
World," a 1962 novel by J. G. Ballard with a small but ardent
following. The 1973 film "Soylent Green," best remembered for its grisly vision
of a world with too many people and too little food, is set in a
hotter future.

The recent cli fi and sci fi climate themed novels have characters
whose concerns focus on climate issues. Temple is showing the way.
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