Expository Writing 20
Topic: Climate Fictions: An intensive seminar that aims to improve each student’s ability to discover and reason about evidence through the medium of essays. Each section focuses on a particular theme or topic, described on the Expos Website. All sections give students practice in formulating questions, analyzing both primary and secondary sources and properly acknowledging them, supporting arguments with strong and detailed evidence, and shaping clear, lively essays. All sections emphasize revision. This class will explore art that attempts to respond to the complexities of global climate change. We are living in a moment where the reality of massive, human-made global climate change has become unavoidable. While fires burn in California and coastlines disappear there have been calls for art that explores and imagines the present and oncoming disaster, with critics such as Amitav Ghosh ask “where is the fiction about climate change?” At the same time, many argue that we already have fiction, art, and poetry about climate change, while others wonder whether art about climate is even important in the face of crisis. Throughout the class we will be asking questions about representation and imagination: How do we describe a climate in flux? The negative effects of climate change are inflicted unevenly. How do people create narratives about environmental loss and the injustice of this loss? Is “Cli-Fi” a genre and if it is what does it look like? What does it mean to imagine the end of humanity or the end of the world, or, as importantly, what does it mean to imagine a future within or after crisis? In the first unit we will read poetry by Tommy Pico, and a graphic memoir by Kate Beaton, alongside short fiction and critical work by climate scholar Kyle Whyte to ask what it means to observe the climate crisis in the present. In the second section we will investigate different visions of the future alongside selections from Rob Nixon’s Slow Violence and Anna Tsing’s The Mushroom at the End of the World, in order to ask how speculative fiction can help us to see both the origins, and the future possibilities, of climate change. In the final unit we will ask how artists, communities, and activists are moving between observation and speculation in order to imagine a response to the crisis. Final research papers will examine a representation of, or response to, climate change in film, visual art, or literature.