Cli-Fi - The Fictions of Climate Change

Course Number: ENGL 122FC
Prerequisites: Writing 2 or upper-division standing
Advisory Enrollment Information: May be repeated for credit providing letter designations are different.
General Education Areas Fulfilled: GE Area G Requirement, Writing Requirement
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 122AA-ZZ
Quarter: Winter 2018
Instructor: Wicke, Jennifer
Day(s): MW
Time: 3:30pm - 4:45pm
Location: HSSB 1173

Literature has always explored the nature of the world, both how it is and how it could be. Since cataclysmic climate change of human causation now threatens the environment worldwide, we see that what were once apocalyptic or dystopian fictions of a drowned, blazing, or even “dead” world are becoming reality, the stuff of daily life around the planet. Cli-Fi, given its name by Dan Bloom, describes an important and passionate genre seen in fiction, film, and media that gives images and narratives to global climate change, as well as a way of reading, thinking, and acting on this reality in the world. Cli-Fi, in other words, creates new stories to illuminate, warn, and inspire us to recognize the present and respond to the future. Drawing on literature and film (two seen in class), with interdisciplinary materials from science, policy, poetry, indigenous movements and activism, this course enters the environmental humanities conversation and shapes new narratives and new actions out of students’ experiences, knowledge, and creativity. We’ll see how Cli-Fi bears witness to the ecological emergency affecting the planet and all of our lives, how it offers solutions for survival, healing, and community transformation, and how it generates ideas for a more just, equal, and resiliently creative future. In the context of climate change, fiction becomes a major force in telling the truths we can live by.

Course requirements are faithful attendance, with 2 absences permitted, and participation in a few short assignments, such as sending a tweet or reviewing a climate fiction video game, story, novel, or film; a midterm essay exam; very short quizzes on the reading and discussion where your worst grade is dropped; a short-answer final that is take-home, and a final project that allows you a huge scope: you can write a critical paper, an opinion piece, do a creative project such as writing your own climate fiction, collaborate on or individually create a short video, a musical work, a game proposal, or an experiment, offer a photographic journal with captions, trace your own climate change narrative or personal story, make a map of a transformation in terrain, or describe ideas for or participation in climate activism, at UCSB or in another community.  (Short essays on climate change theory, Cli-Fi poetry, and indigenous environmental art provided as pdfs or digitally in class.)

Required Texts:

Philippe Squarzoni, Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science


Bill McKibben, editor, I’m With the Bears: Short Stories for a Damaged Planet (Verso) 978-1844677443

H.G. Wells, The Time Machine (Vintage Classics) 978-0198707516

Ursula K. LeGuin, The Word for World is Forest (Tor) 978-0765324641

Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower (Grand Central) 978-0765324641

Barbara Kingsolver, Flight Behavior (Harper Perennial Reprint Edition) 978-0062124272

Claire Vaye Watkins, Gold, Fame, Citrus (Riverhead) 978-1594634246

China Mieville, Three Moments of an Explosion (Del Rey) 978-1101884782