Local and Global? Representations of Climate Change in Contemporary Anglophone Novels

deadline for submissions: 
September 28, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Moira Marquis/ UNC Chapel Hill
contact email: 

This panel will present at NEMLA 2019

March 21-24 in Washington DC

Climate change represents a profound conceptual problem. It is both locally and global manifested. It is both knowable by science as well as created by the technologies science has enabled. How do contemporary Anglophone novelists represent these realities? From Margaret Atwood to Nnedi Okorafor to Hanya Yanagihara many contemporary novelists see their novels as both locally specific as well as globally relevant.

But representing climate change can also be problematic. Anglophone fiction enables a global conversation and wider audience than minor literatures. However, Anglophone literature can potentially flatten cultural differences and enforce a worldwide cultural uniformity that makes it difficult to imagine another way of being. This panel is interested in the strengths and shortcomings of contemporary Anglophone novelists’ representations of climate change in their local settings that address the global issue of imminent environmental collapse in order to consider what literary representations of climate change can inspire a different future.

Some Decolonialists, like Walter Mignolo, assert that effective responses to the crises of the contemporary moment need to be locally specific, otherwise they risk participating in the structures which initiated the crisis. While this seems a logical and necessary response to the global designs of industrial capital, this local response also needs to address the root cause of climate change which are remote for many human communities. How can novelists write about local responses to this global phenomenon that do more than register discontent? This panel will explore ideas such as Gayatri Spivak’s call for planetary literature or Donna Haraway’s Chthulucene in order to locate effective and practical methods used by novelists to create planet feeling or narrate a way of being that is with the non-human other while at the same time not reducing human being in the world to one, essentialist identity that is western and modern.

This panel is interested in the strengths and shortcomings of contemporary Anglophone novelists’ representations of climate change in their local settings that address the global issue of imminent environmental collapse in order to consider what is a useful literary representation of climate change, one that can enable change and inspire a different future. Are Gayatri Spivak’s call for planetary literature or Donna Haraway’s Chthulucene effective and practical methods for novelists to create planet feeling or narrate a way of being that is with the non-human other while at the same time not reducing human communities to cultural uniformity?

Please submit abstracts of up to 300 words and a brief bio through the NEMLA website: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/17257