Cli-Fi - Fictions of Climate Change

Course Number: ENGL 122FC
Prerequisites: Check on GOLD
Advisory Enrollment Information: May be repeated for credit providing letter designations are different.
General Education Areas Fulfilled: Check on GOLD
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 122AA-ZZ
Quarter: Fall 2018
Instructor: Wicke, Jennifer
Day(s): MW
Time: 2:00pm - 3:15pm
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 one very short assignments, such as sending a climate tweet, finding a climate organization to follow, or reviewing a climate fiction video game, story, novel, or film (one paragraph); a take-home midterm single essay exam; three “flash extra credit” quizzes on the reading and discussion where you gain extra credit toward your final grade but are not penalized for a bad outcome; a short-answer and single essay final, and a final project that allows you a huge scope: you can write a critical paper on one of our fictions or films, an opinion piece or editorial, do a creative project such as writing your own short climate fiction, collaborate with one or two others in class on, or individually create, a short video, a musical work, a game proposal, or a scientific experiment; offer a photographic journal or instagram series with captions, do a painting, cli-fi comic, or art piece, trace your own climate change narrative or personal story of place, make a map of a transformation in terrain, or describe ideas for or actual participation in climate activism, at UCSB or in another community.  (Short essays on climate change theory, Cli-Fi poetry and short fiction, and indigenous environmental art will be provided as pdfs or digitally in class.)


Required Texts:  

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

Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep/Blade Runner (Del Rey 2017)


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