2024 AM Physics and Fiction

From Angl-Am
Jump to: navigation, search
     under construction
  • Modul: ang622 ('Akzentsetzung'), phy355 (physikalische Wahlstudien), pb113, pb114
  • Lecturer: Petra Groß and Anna Auguscik
  • Course: 3.02.221
  • Time and Venue: regular online Stud.IP/BBB meetings, Wednesday 16-18h, and two longer sessions in presence Wednesday, 13-18h (tentatively scheduled for 29 May and 26 June)
  • Course Description:

Physics has often been understood as the opposite of fiction: formulae vs narrative; reality vs constructedness; in short, fact vs fiction. This has not discouraged writers to take this very challenge, as a long genre tradition of science fiction attests. However, the interest on the part of what is considered 'literary fiction' seems to be more recent.

In this summer semester, we offer a new interdisciplinary seminar called "Physics in contemporary fiction". In a rare setting with students from both the English and the Physics departments, we will read one full science novel and other science-related literary fiction. We want to approach questions such as: How much science is contained in these texts and how is it incorporated? How important is it for the text? Is the representation correct or plausible? What is the underlying scientific context, and how does it relate to society or politics-related discussions? How do these writings join the 'two cultures' debate? And how can (becoming) physicists and literary scholars, or teachers of either discipline, profit from such a reading? This time, our focus will be on the topic of geoengineering.

Please, buy and read the following novel:

  • Catherine Bush. Blaze Island. Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada: Goose Lane Editions, 2020. (ISBN: 978-1-77310-105-7)

In addition, we will read excerpts from the following novels:

  • Jaspreet Singh. Face: A Novel of the Anthropocene. Victoria, BC: Touchwood Editions, 2022. (ISBN: 978-1-927366-97-4)
  • Neal Stephenson. Termination Shock. London: HarperCollins. 2021. (ISBN: 978-0-00-840440-6)
  • Kim Stanley Robinson. The Ministry for the Future. Little, Brown. 2020. (ISBN: 978-0-356-50886-3)

PLEASE NOTE: Use the time until the beginning of term to immerse yourself in the reading of these primary sources. All of the above can be obtained at our local book shop, Bültmann & Gerriets. Additional materials for preparation, as well as the detailed syllabus, will be made available here and/or on Stud.IP.

Online Session: 17 April

  • Introduction to physics & fiction and look ahead at topic of geoengineering syllabus, primary reading, contexts

Online Session: 24 April

  • Reading and discussion: literature and science -- physics and fiction
  • Aura Heydenreich and Klaus Mecke, "Physics and Literature" (2022);
  • Anton Kirchhofer and Natalie Roxburgh, "The Scientist as 'Problematic Individual' in Contemporary Anglophone Fiction" (2016)

Reading Week: 1 May

  • Reading: excerpts from text 1, 2 and 3

Online Session: 8 May

  • Reading and discussion: (1) Robinson, The Ministry for the Future
  • Contexts:

Online Session: 15 May

  • Reading and discussion: (2) Stephenson, Termination Shock
  • Contexts:

Online Session: 22 May

  • Reading and discussion: (3) Singh, Face
  • Contexts:

In-presence Session: 29 May

  • Input presentations and discussion of texts 1, 2, and 3

Online Session: 5 June

  • Reading and discussion: physics and fiction

Reading Week: 12 June

  • Reading: text 4

Online Session 19 June

  • Reading and discussion: (4) Bush, Blaze Island
  • Contexts:

In-presence Session: 26 June

  • Input presentations and discussion of text 4

Online Session: 3 July

  • discussion of lit/cult research papers
  [Hand in research papers until 15 September 2023]


Primary Reading

  • see above

Further Reading

See also Stud.IP/files

Ministry for the Future

  • Tomás Vergara. "Towards Postcapitalist Value in Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future." Science Fiction Studies 50.3 (November 2023): 415-430.
  • M. Keith Booker and Isra Daraiseh. "The Political Form of Postmodernism: Bakhtin, Jameson, and Kim Stanley Robinson's The Ministry for the Future." Science Fiction Studies 50.2 (July 2023): 251-270.
  • Christian P. Haines. "Planetary Utopianism: Geoengineering, Speculative Fiction, and the Planetary Turn." Textual Practice 37.9 (2023): 1343-1363.
  • Simon C. Estok. "Cli-fi and the Future of the Novel: Building on Helena Feder’s “Ecocriticism and Biology” Special Issue." Configurations 31. 4 (Fall 2023): 317-329.

Literature and Science/Physics

  • Cain, Sarah. "The Metaphorical Field: Post-Newtonian Physics and Modernist Literature." The Cambridge Quarterly ; 1999; 28(1) 46-64.
  • Dihal, Kanta. "New Science, New Stories: Quantum Physics as a Narrative Trope in Contemporary Fiction." pp. 55-74 IN: Engelhardt, Nina; Hoydis, Julia Representations of Science in Twenty-First-Century Fiction: Human and Temporal Connectivities. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan (London); 2019.*Engelhardt, Nina; Hoydis, Julia Representations of Science in Twenty-First-Century Fiction: Human and Temporal Connectivities. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan (London); 2019.
  • 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.
  • Leane, Elizabeth. "Knowing Quanta: The Ambiguous Metaphors of Popular Physics." The Review of English Studies ; 2001 Aug; 52(207) 411-31.
  • Oppermann, Serpil. "Quantum Physics and Literature: How They Meet the Universe Halfway." Anglia: Zeitschrift für Englische Philologie ; 2015; 133(1) 87-104.
  • Vanderbeke, Dirk. "Physics." pp. 192-202 IN: Clarke, Bruce(ed.); Rossini, Manuela(ed.) The Routledge Companion to Literature and Science. London, England: Routledge; 2011. xviii, 550
  • Snow, C.P. Two Cultures
  • Schaffeld, ZAA
  • Haynes
  • Narrative Turn in Science
  • Aura Heydenreich and Klaus Mecke, "Physics and Literature" (2022)

Climate Change, Clifi and Ecocriticism

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, 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.
  • 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.
  • Whyte, Kyle P. "Our Ancestors Dystopia Now: Indigenous Conservation and the Anthropocene." The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities. Ed. Ursula Heise, Jon Christensen, and Michelle Niemann. London: Routledge, 2017.

Canadian Literature

  • Nischik, Reingard M. (ed.) History of Literature in Canada: English-Canadian and French-Canadian. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, 2008.

Science reading