Burning Worlds is Amy Brady’s monthly column dedicated to examining trends in climate fiction, or “cli-fi,” in partnership with Yale Climate Connections.
Across the country, and indeed around the world, college instructors are adding works of climate fiction to their syllabi. See AP article in 2016 headlined: "Colleges add cli-fi to their classroom curriculums."
To discover more about which books are being taught, and what kinds of questions they’re inspiring in the classroom, Dr. Brady reached out to Elizabeth Rush, a visiting lecturer in English at Brown University — where she recently taught a climate fiction class.
The works that Rush teaches in her climate fiction course vary widely in style and content. That’s because the world they represent is so wide-ranging: “Cli-Fi is undoubtedly tied to a set of contemporary anxieties about human beings and their relationship with the environment and technology,” Rush wrote in her syllabus.
Her syllabus also outlined a set of fascinating questions that frame her course: “What…does it mean that [''cli-fi''] has one foot firmly placed in the present tense? How can we distinguish [''cli-fi''] from its predecessors? And in what ways does fiction create an imagined world that gives voice to resistance now?”
This focus on not only climate fiction’s reflection on–but its influence of–the present moment suggests that the genre has a social purpose that goes beyond mere entertainment. That’s an inspiring—if robust—view of what literature can do, and one that Dr Brady hopes to continue investigating in her future Cli-Fi Trends columns.
Dr Brady asked Rush to recommend some of her favorite works of ''cli-fi'' (novels and short stories) to both read and teach—and to explain why she chose them. Her responses are in this link below:
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