The course American Climate Fiction is intended for students from a limited number of programmes. Because of the limited capacity available for each programme, all students who will enroll are placed on a waiting list. Students in the MA program in North American Studies (NAS) will have priority. The definite admission will be made according to the position on the waiting list and the number of places that will be available after the North American Studies students have been placed. In total there is room for 25 students in the seminar; the estimated number of NAS students who will follow the course is 18-20.
This course will consider cultural responses to anthropogenic climate shifts in the United States, as expressed in fictional texts and films. Using the climate as a heuristic for understanding wider currents in American culture will allow us to come to an understanding of the debates and dangers of climate change in the 21st century. We will also implement ecocritical analysis in three case-studies that will challenge the myths, or fictions, told to cover for climate change, racialized pollution, and environmental harm.
This course explores the cultural response to climate change in literary fiction and nonfictional essay. Our objectives:
Understand how literature has responded to the climate crisis, from 1989 to 2022, in the U.S. American context.
Develop students’ analytical skills through in-depth reading of texts, films, visual culture and political discourse related to climate change, and communicating ideas in discussion, oral and written presentations, and collaborative team-work.
Recognize the key pillars of ongoing critical and theoretical debates in the field of American Studies about cultural responses to climate change, particularly how these discourses position (trans)national, cultural, racialized, and gendered identities.
Apply students’ analytical skills by critically considering the American media’s portrayal of climate change and climate crisis, and to understand the political motivations involved in the current discussion and the historical contexts involved.
Develop students’ independent research skills, by formulating clear research questions and evaluating sources in a contemporary, multimedia environment, through the investigation and research into specific case studies currently under debate.
Evaluate fiction and film that stages the the climate crisis with an eye toward the genre’s capacities and limitations as a persuasive, political agent.
The timetables are avalable through My Timetable.
Mode of instruction
Participation in discussion online and in weekly seminar (10%)
Oral group presentation (15% group grade + 10% individual grade)
Short written assignments (reading response papers) (15%)
Essay proposal and 4000-4500 word research essay (50%)
The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average.
If the final grade is insufficient, only the research essay can be rewritten.
Inspection and feedback
How and when a research review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the grade results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.
Please note: the reading list is subject to change. Students will receive email confirmation of the reading list after enrolment.
Salvage the Bones, Jessmyn Ward
The Stone Gods, Jeannette Winterson
Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler
Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver
The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
With excerpts from:
Amitav Ghosh, The Great Derangement
Julia Sze, Environmental Justice in a Moment of Danger
Bill McKibben, The End of Nature
Arlie Russell Hochschild, Strangers in their Own Land
Nathaniel Rich, Losing Earth
Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website
For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.
For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal