Organised by Susie O’Brien and Heike Härting
Generally understood as a subgenre of science fiction, climate fiction employs climate change as a thematic and narrative framework and is related but not reducible to petro-fiction. In its dominant form, cli-fi generates dystopic and post-apocalyptic narratives that emphasize the devastating consequences of ecological catastrophes. Such an approach to cli-fi leaves little room for imagining alternative planetary futures and resilience. Indeed, as Amitav Gosh observes, “at the heart of the climate crisis” lies a “broader imaginative and cultural failure” (2016). Similarly, Dipesh Chakrabarty suggests that the climate crisis requires intellectual conversations “in tension with each other: the planetary and the global; deep and recorded histories; species thinking and critiques of capital” (2009). Indigenous and anti-colonial critics complicate this call, asking, with Métis scholar Zoe Todd: “What does it mean to have a reciprocal discourse on . . . apocalyptic environmental change in a place where, over the last five hundred years, Indigenous peoples faced (and face) the end of worlds with the violent incursion of colonial ideologies and actions?” Mindful of the stories that the theme of climate change opens up, brushes against, or occludes, we wish to consider its usefulness and limitations as a fundamental category of literary production and critique.
This panel will examine Canadian climate narratives in literature and film and their engagement with planetary thinking. We ask how creative works (re)imagine universality, ecological trauma and “pre-trauma” (Ann Kaplan), vulnerability and resilience, planetarity and indigeneity, cross-species collectivities, climate justice and reproductivity, planetary capital and the Anthropocene. Exploring the limits of dystopic and apocalyptic climate narratives, the panel seeks to recalibrate our literary and social imagination on a planetary rather than national or global scale.
Please send proposals (max. 300 words, in English or French) and a short biography (max 150 words) to Susie O’Brien (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Heike Härting (email@example.com) by January 5, 2019. Those who propose papers must be members of ACQL by March 1st, 2019. See the ACQL website for membership and registration information.