Climate Change and the Quest for Transformative Fictions

Tuesday 30 May 2017
4.00 - 5.30PM

This event has passed


Law School Foyer | Eastern Ave | University of Sydney


Cli Fi aspires to envision a climate change culture for readers who are in some cases losing their sense of what it means to be human, to strive for a common good, and to love.

In association with the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies as part of the event series Hacking the Anthropocene II: Weathering
Professor LeMenager’s visit is funded by the Sydney Social Sciences and Humanities Advanced Research Centre (SSSHARC), in association with the ARC-funded History of Emotions

Since climate change began to show itself in the late twentieth century, varied literary genres or forms have come into being to speak of human extinction and the profound loss of animal habitats that climate change entails. Climate fiction, or Cli Fi, is the most well-known. Fictions called Cli Fi are remarkably diverse, ranging from psychological Realism to science fiction to newer genres attempting to stand apart from Cli Fi, such as Solarpunk. Cli Fi ranges across media, from digital to television, film, short fiction, novels, and memoir. Professor Stephanie LeMenager’s discussion of climate change culture begins in the struggle to create transformative fictions, by which she means the struggle to find new stories and states of feeling, new patterns of expectation and means of living with an unprecedented set of limiting conditions. More broadly, this talk addresses the ways in which Cli Fi aspires to envision a climate change culture for readers who are in some cases losing their sense of what it means to be human, to strive for a common good, and to love.

Keynote: Professor Stephanie LeMenager, University of Oregon
Respondent: Professor Christopher Wright, University of Sydney Business School
Chair: Dr. Jennifer Mae Hamilton, Department of Gender and Cultural Studies, University of Sydney

Speaker biographies:

Stephanie LeMenager is the Moore Endowed Professor of English at the University of Oregon. Over the years, her career developed toward the environmental humanities through programming and outreach work at my former university, UC-Santa Barbara, and through my founding roles in diverse green public humanities ventures, including the environmental humanities journal Resilience, co-founded with Professor Stephanie Foote of the University of Illinois. Other collaborations include the “i (heart) h2o” campus lab project for raising student awareness about water systems with artists Sara Daleiden and Therese Kelly and professor Janet Walker, international relationships with Stockholm University, where she has taught, and Mid-Sweden University, which will partner with University of Oregon faculty and graduate students to address environmental crises such as climate change through culture and media. She has been an invited steering committee member in the Mellon-sponsored “Humanities for the Environment” (HfE) Observatory administered at Arizona State University, a curatorial consultant at the Blaffer Museum in Houston, Texas, for an installation by Zina Saro Wiwa which addresses the legacies of oil and art in the Niger Delta, and has been a member of the “After Oil” research and public outreach collective, based in Canada. These projects, in addition to her recent book Living Oil: Petroleum Culture in the American Century (Oxford U Press, 2014), represent her commitment to building out the strengths of her training in literary and cultural studies toward interdisciplinary teaching and a broad discussion of what it means to be human in the era of climate change.

Christopher Wright is Professor of Organisational Studies at the University of Sydney Business School where he teaches and researches organisational change, sustainability and critical understandings of capitalism and political economy. He has published extensively on the history of management, management consultancy, the changing nature of the labour process. His current research explores organizational and societal responses to climate change, with a particular focus on how managers and business organizations interpret and respond to the climate crisis. He has published on this topic in relation to issues of corporate environmentalism, corporate citizenship, organizational justification and compromise, risk, identity and future imaginings. He is the author of a number of books, including most recently: Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-destruction (Cambridge University Press, 2015).

Jennifer Mae Hamilton (chair)  is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney funded by The Seed Box: A MISTRA-FORMAS Environmental Humanities Collaboratory at Linköping University, Sweden. She is also an adjunct lecturer in Ecocriticism at New York University (Sydney) and an Associate Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence in the History of Emotions. Jennifer completed a PhD in English at the University of NSW (UNSW). During her candidature she tutored in English and Women’s and Gender Studies at UNSW and English at the Western Sydney University. Her dissertation has been adapted into the book ‘This Contentious Storm’: An Ecocritical and Performance History of King Lear, forthcoming with Bloomsbury Academic. After her PhD she took an adjunct position in Environmental Humanities at UNSW (2013-2015), teaching and guest lecturing into their interdisciplinary programs. She co-convenes the reading group Composting: Feminisms and the Environmental Humanities here at the University of Sydney.