Meteorology of Form: Australian Climate Change Novels

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


Literature, like climate science, has ‘worlds’. Two such worlds within climate fiction are those determined by social collapse and loss of wilderness. The texts I have chosen for this chapter understand these aspects of global warming as ‘simultaneously real, discursive, and social’. Their characters are integrated into specific temporal and spatial contexts that demonstrate moods and meanings; here, literary scholars can begin to evaluate the ways humans affectively interpret and stand in relation to the environment, their existential world.

I turn to Australian literature to consider whether the arts and its analysis might yield models of socially symbolic acts that conceptualise life within a restricted field of immanence. Whether this helps to organise our responses to the ways materiality exhibits affectivity is a political issue, I intuit, key to reorganising our thoughts around mobilising climate change emotions. Literature is not tasked with identifying survival mechanisms; writers, however, are vastly more skilled at communicating anxiety, grief and loss with human feeling than scientists who articulate our precarious state with empirical data. Both groups appear to orbit a representational polis governing commitments that range from privatised environmental literacy to the revolution of world spirit. The unparalleled levels of grief we visit in the contemporary climate crisis are something that we can only imagine exacerbated in 2c, 4c and 6c scenarios. Such a challenge to culture at large might in part be addressed with knowledge; the humanities refracts this challenge as the difficulty of
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to Literature and Climate
EditorsKelly Sultzbach, Adeline Johns-Putra
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publication statusSubmitted - 31 May 2021


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