Between Fact and Fiction: Climate Change Fiction

Workshop at Hanse Wissenschaftskolleg, Delmenhorst, Germany

Since global warming seems, almost by definition, hard to imagine (after all, it’s never happened before) it gets short shrift. (…) And here science can take us only so far. The scientists have done their job – they’ve issued every possible warning, flashed every red light. Now it’s time for the (…) artists, whose role is to help us understand what things feel like. -- Bill McKibben, Introduction to I’m with the Bears, p. 3

Novels and short stories that depict research on climate change and/or its ecological and social ramifications have been gaining in prominence. In the U.S. in recent years, fiction that deals with climate change is being discussed in the media under the label “cli-fi” (climate fiction) and billed as a new genre.

From an interdisciplinary perspective, we are interested not so much in the question of literary classification as in the (self-)positioning of cli-fi as a boundary genre that picks up literary, scientific, political, and general societal discourses and articulates them in a new way. The self-representations of authors as well as the comments by reviewers in scientific and literary media reveal a literature that actually aims to elucidate scientific knowledge and even attempts to inspire readers to political action. Thus cli-fi serves as a cultural focal point for re-imagining the future socio-ecological consequences of global warming. What sort of crossover is there between scientific and literary speculation, and what similarities and differences do we see, both in the texts themselves and in their effects on readers? We want to discuss the potential social effects of climate change fiction from various disciplinary perspectives on our workshop.

See the full schedule

Guests are welcome, but should register by sending an email to Sina.Farzin(at)wiso.uni-hamburg(dot)de before March 15th, as space is limited. There is no registration or conference fee. The workshop is part of the Fiction Meets Science research program.

Workshop organization/contact:
Jr.-Prof. Dr. Sina Farzin (University of Hamburg) sina.farzin(at)wiso.uni-hamburg(dot)de
Emanuel Herold (MA; University of Bremen) emherold(at)uni-bremen(dot)de