2022-23 AM Climate Change and Environmental Justice in Contemporary Canadian Fiction

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  • Course: Climate Change and Environmental Justice in Contemporary Canadian Fiction
  • Time: Thursday 12-14h
  • Venue: A07 0-031
  • Course Description: In this seminar, we will focus on the literature and culture of Canada, specifically on the representation of climate chnage and environmental justice in contemporary Canadian Fiction. We will read (1) several stories from the recently published short story anthology Cli-fi: Canadian Tales of Climate Change in context of CanLit, genre hybridity in 'cli-fi', or the relationship between literature and science; (2) Thomas King's 1990s novel Green Grass, Running Water in context of ecocritical and specifically indigenenous Canadian responses to questions of the environment; and (3) fresh from the press, Jaspreet Singh's Face: A Novel of the Anthropocene in context of calls for new paradigms of thinking in the face of perceiving humans as no longer just biological, but also as geological agents, or the challenges to imagine climate change in terms of scale, such as raised by, among others, Dipesh Chakrabarty. Starting out with the notion, proposed by Robert MacFarlane and Amitav Ghosh, that literary negotiation of this important scientific and societal problem has not been met adequately as a literary and cultural phenomenon, we will find out to what extend this alleged gap has been filled since, as noticed by cultural respondents such as Claire Armitstead, Adam Trexler, Adeline Johns-Putra and many others, but also come to ask if it may not have been so wide in the first place. Here, the genre terms 'eco-fiction', 'cli-fi', or 'anthropocene fiction' will be helfpul to understand the discursive chronology of climate change as a literary and cultural phenomenon, and to sharpen our senses that not only the existence or lack of literary and cultural responses to climate change may depend on the respective 'conceptual lens', but also our respective reading and understanding of such texts.

Please, buy and read the following novels and short story anthology (if possible, order soon via Bueltmann & Gerriets, if unobtainable as print, e-versions are also fine):

  • Thomas King, Green Grass, Running Water [1993]. New York: Bantam, 1994. ISBN: 978-0-553-37368-4
  • Bruce Meyer, ed. Clif-Fi: Canadian Tales of Climate Change. Holstein, ON: Exile Editions, 2017. ISBN: 978-1-55096-670-1
  • Jaspreet Singh, Face: A Novel of the Anthropocene. Victoria, BC: Touchwood Editions, 2022. ISBN: 978-1-927366-97-4

PLEASE NOTE: Use the time until the beginning of term to order (and, ideally, immerse yourself in the reading of) the novels. Additional materials for preparation, as well as the detailed syllabus, will be made available here and/or on Stud.IP.

  • Course Requirements
  • Requirements for 6 KP: regular attendance and an (oral/)written contribution in the form of either a presentation + written outline (10-12 pp) or seminar paper (15 pp), based on the topic of the seminar.
  • As part of the "Aktive Teilnahme" regulation:
    Die aktive Teilnahme besteht aus folgenden Komponenten
    - regelmäßige Anwesenheit: max. 3 Abwesenheiten und gegebenenfalls Nacharbeit
    - Vor- und Nachbereitung des Seminarstoffs (Expertengruppen, Vorbereitung/Lektüre von Texten) 
    - Entwicklung einer wissenschaftlichen Fragestellung aus dem Problembereich des Seminars, durch:
      *Übernahme von Ergebnispräsentationen (Gruppenarbeit) und 
      *Entwicklung einer Research Paper Outline im Laufe des Semesters: 
       Wahl eines Themenbereichs (bis letzte Sitzung vor Weihnachten),
       Abstract mit Fragestellung inkl. Forschungsbibliographie (RPO) (bis 20. Jan), 
       Vorstellung der Fragestellung (letzte Semestersitzung).

Session 1: 20 October

  • Introduction: Cli-fi and Eco-crit
  • Reading: Bruce Meyer, "Introduction." Clif-Fi: Canadian Tales of Climate Change. Holstein, ON: Exile Editions, 2017.
  • Contexts: (see handout)

Session 2: 27 October

  • Literature and Climate Change
  • Context Reading: Adam Trexler and Adeline Johns-Putra, "Climate Change in Literature and Literary Criticism" (2011)
  • Further Reading: Adeline Johns-Putra and Kelly Sultzbach, "Introduction" to The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Climate (2022)
  • Brief Overview of Theoretical Approaches and Movements

Session 3: 3 November

  • Literature in Canada, or CanLit
  • Nischik, "Introduction" and other chapters from History of Literature in Canada (2012)

Session 4: 10 November

  • Short Story I: Nina Munteanu, "Water" (2017)
  • Context Reading: Banting, "Ecocriticism in Canada" (2015)
  • Further Reading: Lousley, "Ecocriticism" (2020)

Session 5: 17 November

  • Short Story II: Holly Schofield, "Weight of the World" (2017)
  • Context Reading: Johns-Putra "Borrowing the World: Climate Change Fiction and the Problem of Posterity" (2017)
  • Further Reading: Kirchhofer and Roxburgh, "The Scientist as 'Problematic Individual' in Contemporary Anglophone Fiction" (2016)

Session 6: 24 November

  • Short Story III: Richard Van Camp, "Lying in Bed Together" (2017)
  • Context Reading: Kerber and Lousley, "Literary Responses to Indigenous Climate Justice and the Canadian Settler-State" (2022)
  • Further Reading: MacLeod, "The Canadian Short Story in English" (2015)

Session 7: 1 December (Reading Week)

  • Primary Reading: Green Grass, Running Water
  • Textual Analysis: HO Narratology

Session 8: 8 December

  • Primary Reading: Green Grass, Running Water
  • Context Reading: Lally Garuer and Arman Garnet Ruffo, "Indigenous Writing: Poetry and Prose" (2009)
  • Presentation: xxx

Session 9: 15 December

  • Primary Reading: Green Grass, Running Water
  • Secondary Reading: Lousley, "Environmental Justice and Democracy in Thomas King's Green Grass, Running Water (2004)
  • Presentation: xxx

Session 10: 22 December

  • Primary Reading: Green Grass, Running Water
  • Secondary Reading: Rebecca Lynne Fullan, "Thomas King Tells a Different Story" (2019)
  • Presentation: xxx

Session 11: 12 January

  • Primary Reading: Face
  • Textual Analysis: HO Narratology
  • Context Reading: Chakrabarty, "The Climate of History: Four Theses" (2009)
  • Presentation: xxx

Session 12: 19 January

  • Primary Reading: Face
  • Context Reading: Vermeulen on Station Eleven (2018) and "Introduction" to Literature and the Anthropocene (2020)
  • Presentation: xxx
  [Hand in RPO until 20 Jan 2023]

Session 13: 26 January (Late Session and Q&A with the Author)

  • Primary Reading: Face
  • wrapping up: reflection and final discussion
  • evaluation

Session 14: 02 February

  [Hand in research papers until 15 March 2023]

Tools

Primary Reading

  • see above

Recommended Further Primary Reading

  • [Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven, 2014]
  • [Cherie Dimaline, The Marrow Thieves, 2017]
  • [Premee Mohamed, The Annual Migration of Clouds, 2021]

Secondary and Further Reading

  • Banting, Pamela. "Ecocriticism in Canada". Sugars, Cynthia (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Canadian Literature. Oxford University Press, 2015.
  • Chakrabarty, Dipesh. "The Climate of History: Four Theses." Critical Inquiry 35:2 (2009): 197-222.
  • Chakrabarty, Dipesh. The Climate of History in a Planetary Age. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2021.
  • Craps, Stef, and Rick Crownshaw. "Introduction: The Rising Tide of Climate Change Fiction." Studies in the Novel 50.1 (2018): 1-8.
  • Crutzen, Paul J. "Geology of Mankind: The Anthropocene." Nature 415 (2002): 23.
  • Fullan, Rebecca Lynne. "Thomas King Tells a Different Story: Dams, Rivers, and Indigenous Hydromythology." Make Waves: Water in Contemporary Literature and Film. Ed. Paula Anca Farca. Reno, Nevada: University of Nevada Press, 2009.
  • Ghosh, Amitav. The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2016.
  • Glotfelty, Cheryll. "Introduction: Literary Studies in an Age of Environmental Crisis." The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in Literary Ecology. Athens, GA: U of Georgia P, 1996. xv-xxxvii.
  • Horn, Eva, and Hannes Berghaller. The Anthropocene: Key Issues for the Humanities. Routledge, 2019.
  • Irr, Caren. "Climate Fiction in English." Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature, 2017.
  • Johns-Putra, Adeline. “Borrowing the World: Climate Change Fiction and the Problem of Posterity“. Metaphora: Journal for Literature Theory and Media. EV 2: Climate Change, Complexity, Representation. Guest ed. Hannes Bergthaller. 2017. Web. [2022-10-23]. <http://metaphora.univie.ac.at/volume2-johns-putra.pdf>
  • Kerber, Jenny, and Cheryl Lousley, “Literary Responses to Indigenous Climate Justice and the Canadian Settler-State,” in The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Climate, ed. Adeline Johns-Putra and Kelly Sultzbach, Cambridge Companions to Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022), 269–80.
  • Kirchhofer, Anton, and Natalie Roxburgh. "The Scientist as 'Problematic Individual' in Contemporary Anglophone Fiction." Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik: A Quarterly of Language, Literature and Culture 64.2 (June 2016): 149-168.
  • Kluwick, Ursula Maria. "Talking about Climate Change: The Ecological Crisis and Narrative Form." The Oxford Handbook of Ecocriticism. Oxford: OUP, 2014.
  • Lousley, Cheryl. “Ecocriticism.” In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature. Oxford University Press, 2015—. Article published October 27, 2020.
  • Lousley, Cheryl. "'Hosanna Da, Our Home on Natives' Land': Environmental Justice and Democracy in Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water.” Essays on Canadian Writing 81 (Winter 2004): 17-44.
  • Lousley, Cheryl. "Spectral Environmentalisms: National Politics and Gothic Ecologies in Silent Spring, Surfacing and Salt Fish Girl." ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 25:1 (September 2018): 412-428.
  • Lousley, Cheryl, and Stephanie Posthumus. “Canadian Forum on Bruno Latour’s An Inquiry into Modes of Existence.” Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities 4.1 (Winter 2016): 110-113.
  • MacLeod, Alexander. "The Canadian Short Story in English: Aesthetic Agency, Social Change, and the Shifting Canon". Sugars, Cynthia (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Canadian Literature. Oxford University Press, 2015.
  • Nischik, Reingard M. (ed.) History of Literature in Canada: English-Canadian and French-Canadian. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, 2008.
  • O’Brien, Susie, and Cheryl Lousley, ed. "Environmental Futurity." Special Issue of Resilience: Journal of Environmental Humanities 4.2-3 (Spring-Fall 2017).
  • Soper, Ella, and Nicholas Bradley (eds.) Greening the Maple: Canadian Ecocriticism in Context. University of Calgary Press, 2013.
  • Tally, Robert T., and Christine M Battista (eds.). Ecocriticism and Geocriticism: Overlapping Territories in Environmental and Spatial Literary Studies. New York: Palgrave Macmillan US, 2016.
  • Trexler, Adam. Anthropocene Fictions: The Novel in a Time of Climate Change. Charlottesville, VA, and London: U of Virginia P, 2015.
  • Trexler, Adam, and Adeline Johns-Putra. "Climate Change in Literature and Literary Criticism." Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 2.2. (2011): 185-200.
  • Vermeulen, Pieter. "Beauty that Must Die: Station Eleven, Climate Change Fiction, and the Life of Form." Studies in the Novel 50.1 (Spring 2018): 9-25.
  • Vermeulen, Pieter. "Introduction: Naming, Telling, Writing - The Anthropocene." Literature and the Anthropocene. London: Routledge, 2020.