Cli-fi: Science Fiction, Climate Change, & Apocalypse

Institution: Temple University

Instructor: Ted Howell

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 a century imagined alternative worlds and wondered 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, to begin, 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?

Country: United States

Syllabus: Cli-fi: Science Fiction, Climate Change, & Apocalypse

Listed on UC-CSU NXTerra‘s Climate Fiction page by Professor Nicole Seymour. UC-CSU NXTerra is a resource for college teachers from across all disciplines and anyone seeking to enhance their teaching and learning about the climate crisis, critical sustainability, and climate justice studies, both inside and outside the classroom.