Saturday, December 19, 2015

Middlebury College, Spring Semester: -- Cli-Fi: Fictions of Climate Change

*** see also a graduate seminar being taught at Tufts Univeristy by Prof. Liz Ammons

Course # 7797  

Cli-Fi: Fictions of Climate Change

Taught by Professor Jennifer Wicke


Mondays and Wednesdays from 2 pm to 4:35 pm - [ a 2.5 hour class]

*** see also a graduate seminar being taught at Tufts Univeristy by Prof. Liz Ammons

Literature has always explored the nature of the world and envisioned many versions of its end. In our own time, there is growing awareness that cataclysmic climate change of human causation threatens the environment worldwide. Apocalyptic visions of a drowned, denatured world are becoming reality. The newish term ‘Cli-fi’ promoted worldwide by Tufts 1971 graduate Dan Bloom describes an important new genre of fiction and film that passionately explores climate change in its human and nonhuman facets.

We will read and view major, diverse examples of Cli-fi from earlier prophetic works to its contemporary explosion across media, to see how the genre bears witness to the ecological emergency affecting the planet and our future, and how it offers solutions for survival and healing.

Cli-fi questions proof and belief, agency and action, hope and despair: as a literature that awakens and transforms us, Cli-fi imagines the new ecology we inhabit, where fiction comes true. Film clips, science policy documents, climate poetry, and climate art will be available or shown in class.

Texts for class readings 

HG Wells, The Time Machine (Penguin);
Philip Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Del Rey);
JG Ballard, The Drowned World, 50th anniversary ed. (Liveright);
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Word for World is Forest, 2nd ed. (Tor);
Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower (Grand Central);
Peggy Atwood, Oryx and Crake (Anchor);
Ian McEwan, Solar (Anchor);
Barbara Kingsolver, Flight Behavior (Harper);
Nat Rich, Odds Against Tomorrow (Picador);
Monique Roffey, Archipelago (Penguin)
David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks (Random);
Emily Mandel, Station Eleven (Vintage).

Jennifer Wicke


Office Hours:


Ph.D. Columbia, 1983
M.A. Columbia, 1977
B.A. University of Chicago, 1974

I majored in philosophy at the University of Chicago, and spent time in its doctoral program before transferring to Columbia and receiving my PhD in English and Comparative Literature. As a result I’m a comparatist in English, Spanish, German, French across the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries, and add Ancient Greek to the comparative work I do in critical theory and philosophy. This comparative bent extends to interdisciplinary studies that include film, media and mass culture, political economy and political theory, gender and sexuality studies, and global and postcolonial theory, in an Anglo-American and ultimately global framework. Before coming to Virginia I had a joint appointment in English and in Comparative Literature at Yale for nine years, where I was also on the Film Faculty; taught at New York University as a professor and chair of the Comparative Literature department for seven years, and was part of American Studies and the program in Irish Studies; was a visiting professor at Columbia, and have since been a professor at the University of Virginia, teaching and researching in both American and British literary contexts in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as in comparative literary studies, film and media studies, and global studies, particularly in relation to theories of globalization and questions of empire, and in relation to the genre of the novel. Special interests include modernism and the “new modernist studies,” the work of Henry James, Oscar Wilde, Claude McKay, E. M. Forster, James Joyce, Willa Cather, William Faulkner, and Virginia Woolf, to name a few, and modernity studies in relation to modernization, mass media, economics and ethics, from the late nineteenth century to the present moment. Consumption in many senses plays a major part in my work on modernity and the present, also technologies of modernity including celebrity, advertising, mass cultural vernaculars, and the importance of literature, translation, and the gift economy The history and theory of the novel engages me as a scholar and as a teacher; I’m on the executive board of the new international Society for Novel Studies--convening its first conference at Duke University in 2012--have taught courses on the global novel, and have a book in progress seeking to identify that contemporary genre in world literature. Additional interests involve the relation between the Middle East and world literature and politics; the importance of play, performance, and games in modern culture, from probability to game theory to performances of identity; genre studies in film, television, and cultural narratives; travel writing from the medieval period to today; how “theory” has become a common vernacular and language in a mediated, digital, and global world. The hallmark of my work is melding aesthetics with material, historical, and political form.

*** see also a graduate seminar being taught at Tufts Univeristy by Prof. Liz Ammons

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