In the Spring of 2015, our cli-fi class at Temple University launched this blog. Because the topic of our class was so deeply concerned with public engagement and issues that are important to society at large, we created a blog in an effort to extend our conversation beyond the classroom. As it turned out, we succeeded:
In April of 2015, our class was featured in a Reuters article, “Move over sci-fi: ‘Climate fiction’ finds way into classrooms,” by Kyle Plantz, which was then republished in the New York Times. (And linked to by our own Temple News). Soon afterwards we appeared in a ClimateWire piece about Game of Thrones by Brittany Patterson. All of this was largely thanks to the tireless efforts of Dan Bloom, who coined the term “cli-fi” years ago and kindly publicized our class through an excellent news article of his own and an interview with our professor, Ted Howell. Along the way we got a Twitter shout-out from the author of one of our books, Naomi Oreskes, and a write-up on the webpage of the biographer of another one of our authors, George Stewart.
The following summer, our professor, Ted Howell, wrote a piece on the blogging platform Medium about what he learned from teaching the course.
Later, our course was featured in four more pieces, all of them really excellent discussions of cli-fi and its appeal:
- The Atlantic, “Climate Fiction: Can Books Save the Planet?” by J.K. Ullrich
- The Chronicle of Higher Education, “The Subfield That Is Changing the Landscape of Literary Studies” by Rio Fernandes
- GOOD Magazine, “Climate Fiction, or ‘Cli-Fi,’ Is the Hottest New Literary Genre” by Sarah Stankorb
- The Resilient Investor, “Stories to show us the way: Cli-fi on the rise” by Jim Cummings
Here’s some tips on how to find out more about our course:
- Visit our Book Reviews page where you’ll find links to all of the reviews we wrote of our cli-fi books. This is our most significant achievement.
- Check out the numerous blog posts we wrote: reactions to news stories and readings, commentary on articles and ideas, and plenty of humor in the face of dour facts.
- Watch us go “meta” and find out what we thought about the whole process of blogging itself.
Course Description: Recent years have seen the emergence of a new genre of novel: climate fiction, or “cli-fi” for short. Its nickname reveals its connection to the larger genre of science fiction, which has for over a century imagined alternative worlds and what it would be like for humans to live during and after apocalyptic events. At the same time, contemporary science has begun to understand the irrevocable interconnection between humans and the earth’s climate—to wit, the frightening fact that human beings have altered the climate itself, for now and for long into the future. Taking up the intersection of science fiction and the climate, this course will explore contemporary fiction (and some fiction from earlier in the twentieth-century) that depicts and/or imagines the impact of climate change. Our key questions will be these: how can something so gradual, so significant, and so mind-boggling as climate change be treated in literature? And can fiction help to alter our conceptions of the earth and our role in changing it?
Primary Readings (see complete schedule, with secondary readings, on our Readings page)
- H. G. Wells, The Time Machine (978-0375761188)
- Phillippe Squarzoni, Climate Changed: A Personal Journey through the Science (978-1419712555)
- George R. Stewart, Earth Abides (978-0449213018)
- Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future (978-0231169547)
- Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower (978-0446675505)
- Barbara Kingsolver, Flight Behavior (978-0062124272)
- Kim Stanley Robinson, Forty Signs of Rain (978-0553585803)
- Paolo Bacigalupi, The Wind-up Girl (978-1597801584)
- Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood (978-0307455475)
- Tobias Buckell, Hurricane Fever (978-0765319227)
Syllabus: Howell_2113_Popular Fiction_Spring 2015
(Header image via CC photo by Rennett Stowe on Flickr)