The Anthropocene in British and Australian Fiction and Film

Course title: Anthropocene in British and Australian Fiction and Film
Instructor: Dr. Iva Polak, Assoc. Prof.
ECTS credit: 6
Language: English
Duration: Semester 4 or 6
Status: Elective
Enrolment requirements: Introduction to English Literature 1 and 2
Course description: We will discuss cultural implications of the Anthropocene, a new geological era in which humans have become a geological force on a planetary scale to be reckoned with. Starting with Timothy Morton’s claim that man is “the detective and the criminal” (Dark Ecology, 2016), we will consider a selection of British and Australian novels which fictionalise and project into the future a series of issues affecting the present climate and our planet: fossil fuel burning, global warming, decreased biological diversity, global population increase, climate refugees. The selected works use satire and irony, and since they are voiced from different cultural, ethnic and gender positions, they offer different recipes for avoiding/surviving the end of the world.
Objectives : Students will get to know the implication of the new geological era and how it has influenced cultural production from the UK and Australia.

Course requirements: The final grade is based on continuous assessment which includes regular attendance (max. 4 unattended classes), preparation for and participation in class discussions, and writing and timely submission of short written assignments (6 assignments, c. 1500 words per assignment). Assignments are written after the end of each topical unit. Students must receive a minimum passing grade for reach written assignment to successfully pass the course.

Week by week schedule
WEEK 1

Wire Cutters, 2015 (animated short); The OceanMaker, 2018 (animated short); Brolga, 2019. (short sci-fi feature film)
Introduction into the Anthropocene (anthropos vs homo, Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene, anthropocentrism, post/trans/humanism, hyperobject, ecological thought…)
– Chakrabarty, Dipesh. “The Climate of History: Four Theses”
– Usher, Phillip John, “ Untranslating the Anthropocene”
WEEK 2
Anthropocene fiction (ecology, climate, dystopia, genre hybridity)
– Ghosh, Amitav. The Great Derangement
– Goodbody, Axel and Adeline Johns-Putra. “Introduction”
– Trexler, Adam. Anthropocene Fictions
WEEK 3
J. G. Ballard. High-Rise (1975)
WEEK 4
High-Rise (2015), dir. Ben Wheatley
WEEK 5
Discussion about the following documentaries: The Age of Stupid (2009), dir. Franny Armstrong, documentary; An Inconvenient Truth (2006), dir. Davis Guggenheim, documentary
WEEK 6
Saci Lloyd. It’s the End of the World As We Know It (2015)
WEEK 7
Jeanette Winterson. The Stone Gods (2007)
WEEK 8
Jeanette Winterson. The Stone Gods (2007)
WEEK 9
Australian fiction and film of the Anthropocene (ecology, climate, dystopia, genre hybridity) 
WEEK 10
Discussion about the Four Corners TV shows: Fired Up (Apri 2021), Climate Wars (May 2020), and Weather Alert  (March 2018)
WEEK 11
Mireille Juchau. The World Without Us (2018)
WEEK 12
Alexis Wright: The Swan Book (2013)
– Discussion about the Four Corners TV show Digging into Adani (Oct 2017)
– Polak, Iva. “Alexis Wright’s The Swan Book (2013) – Indigenous Cli-Fi”
WEEK 13
Alexis Wright: The Swan Book (2013)
WEEK 14
Final discussion

Reading list:
Novels

J. G. Ballard. High-Rise (1975)
Saci Lloyd. It’s the End of the World As We Know It (2015)
Jeanette Winterson. The Stone Gods (2007)
Mireille Juchau. The World Without Us (2015)
Alexis Wright. The Swan Book (2013)

Critical editions:
– Braidotti, Rosi and Maria Hlavajova (eds.) Posthuman Glossary, Bloomsbury Academic, 2018. (terminology)
– Chakrabarty, Dipesh. “The Climate of History: Four Theses”, Critical Inquiry 35, 2009: 197-222.
– Garrard, Greg. Ecocriticism, Routledge: London and New York, 2004, Glossary (terminology)
– Ghosh, Amitav. The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, University of Chicago Press: Chicago and London, 2016. Selected excerpts: pp. 1-27, 68-73.
– Goodbody, Axel and Adeline Johns-Putra. “Introduction”, Cli-Fi: A Companion, Alex Goodbody and Adeline Johns-Putra, eds., Peter Lang: Oxford, 2019: 1-18.
– Polak, Iva. “Alexis Wright’s The Swan Book (2013) – I
ndigenous Cli-Fi”, Cli-Fi: A Companion, Alex Goodbody and Adeline Johns-Putra, eds., Peter Lang: Oxford, 2019: 217-222.
– Trexler, Adam. Anthropocene Fictions: The Novel in a Time of Climate Change (Under the Sign of Nature), University of Virginia Press, 2015, “Introduction: Contextualising the Climate Change Novels”.
– Usher, Phillip John, “ Untranslating the Anthropocene”, Diacritics, 44:3, 2016: 56-77. 

Further reading (optional):
– Clark, Timothy. Ecocriticism on the Edge: The Anthropocene as a Threshold Concept., Bloomsbury Academic, 2015.
– Hulme, Mike. Why We Disagree about Climate Change: Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity, 4th Ed, Cambridge University Press, 2009.
– Meneley, Tobians and Jesse Oak Taylor (eds). Anthropocene Reading: Literary History in Geological Times. Penn State University Press, 2017.
– Moore, Jason W. (ed.), Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History and the Crisis of Capitalism, PM Press, 2016.
– Morton, Timothy. Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Existence, Columbia University Press, 2016.
– Morton, Timothy. Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World (Posthumanities), University of Minnesota Press 2013.
– Morton, Timothy. The Ecological Thought, Harvard University Press (2010) 2012.

All textual and audiovisual materials are provided in electronic format.