We will explore how the growing awareness of environmental threats and, more recently, the climate crisis has influenced anglophone narrative fiction in the 20th and 21st century. If climate change has become the new reality, how has this new “normal” been embraced by the so-called “serious” novel, mostly written along the lines of realistic and psychological fiction? We’ll study prose texts that have been classified as novels with environmental spin, science fiction, fantasy, dystopia, or climate fiction. Our main focus will thus be on genre and narrative structures and how these categories have been constantly blurred and updated in order to correspond with the changing concepts of nature, place and time, and our sense of the global and the local, the speculative and the real. Starting from a brief excursion into the Little Ice Age and the establishing works of environmentally-conscious fiction (including Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein), we will proceed to read works that take human interaction with the natural world as a theme and combine it with other concerns. These include questions of social and racial inequality, gender identity, the use of violence in social and environmental activism and many others.
This course has been designed for BA students at the department of Anglophone Literatures and Cultures who will be prioritized when enrolling for the course.
Course Requirements:
Credit requirements include regular attendance (max. 2 unexplained absences per semester) and active participation in the class discussion, based on the reading of assigned texts. These will include extracts from the novels we will discuss (50 to 60 pages) and an extract from a theoretical or critical essay (5 to 10 pages) on a weekly or fortnightly basis. Students will also be expected to give one in-class presentation (5 to 8 minutes) on one of the essays we will discuss and to submit an essay of 2000 to 2500 words on a topic of their choice by mid-September 2023. Essays must be thoroughly researched and include full bibliographical references to all works cited or paraphrased (see the UALK Chicago Guidelines on the course Moodle site for details).
(An updated version of the syllabus, including the final selection of required texts will be available from the Moodle course site.)
Please note that the course begins on 22 February.
Week 1
Week 2
George Rippey Stewart: Storm (1941)
Week 3 & 4
Walter M. Miller: A Canticle for Horowitz (1959)
Week 5 & 6
Ursula Le Guin: The Word for World Is Forest (1972) & Avatar
Week 7
Sara Baume: A Line Made By Walking (2017) – the seminar will be led by Dr. Jessica Bundschuh from University of Stuttgart
Week 8 & 9
Edward Abbey: The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975) & screening of Kelly Reichardt’s Nigh Moves (2013)
Week 10
Jeanette Winterson: The Stone Gods (2007)
Week 11 & 12
Amitav Ghosh: Gun Island (2019)

Selected extracts from:
George Rippey Stewart: Storm (1941)
Walter M. Miller: A Canticle for Horowitz (1959)
Ursula Le Guin: The Word for World Is Forest (1972)
Sara Baume: A Line Made By Walking (2017)
Edward Abbey: The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975)
Jeanette Winterson: The Stone Gods (2007)
Amitav Ghosh: Gun Island (2019)
Octavia E. Butler: Parable of the Sower (1993)

Recommended Secondary Reading – Criticism and Theory:
Amitav Ghosh: The Great Derangement (2016)
Min Hyoung Song: Climate Lyricism (2016)
Stibbe, Arran: Ecolinguistics: Language, Ecology and the Stories We Live By (2015)
Moore, Bryan L.: Ecology and Literature: Ecocentric Personification from Antiquity to the 21st-Century (2008)
Morton, Timothy: The Ecological Thought (2010)
Müller, Sabine Lenore and Tina-Karen Pusse, eds.: From Ego to Eco: Mapping Shifts from Anthropocentrism to Ecocentrism (2018)
Jamieson, Dale: Ethics and the Environment: An Introduction (2008)
Ursula K. Heise: Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global (2008)
Eva Horn and Hannes Bergthaller: The Anthropocene: Key Issues for the Humanities (2020)
Huggan, Graham and Helen Tiffin: Postcolonial Ecocriticism: Literature, Animals, Environment (2015)
Hultman, Martin and Paul M. Pulé: Ecological Masculinities: Theoretical Foundations and Practical Guidance (2018)
Abram, David: The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World (1997)
Timothy Clark: The Cambridge Introduction to Literature and the Environment (2011)
Timothy Clark: Ecocriticism on the Edge: The Anthropocene as a Threshold Concept (2015)