Abstract

Abstract:

While most discussions of climate change fiction tend to focus on genres and objects, this essay foregrounds the importance of the notion of form. Starting from an understanding of the Anthropocene as marked by the entanglement of particular (social, cultural, symbolic) forms of life and (biological) life forms, the essay argues that literature’s “life of form” can productively engage the complexities of those interactions. Indeed, if philosophical discussions of Anthropocene life such as Samuel Scheffler’s Death and the Afterlife and Roy Scranton’s Learning to Die in the Anthropocene suffer from a confusion of life forms and forms of life, a novel like Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven is more canny about their multifarious interactions. Ultimately, and in contrast to most post-catastrophe fiction, Mandel’s novel is less interested in the specter of the end of the human species than in the fundamental contingency of all human forms of life. The essay draws on Eric Santner’s work in political theology and on Station Eleven’s intertextual usage of the work of William Shakespeare and Herman Melville to present an account of the multifarious interactions between life and form that are at stake in climate change fiction.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1512
Print ISSN
0039-3827
Pages
pp. 9-25
Launched on MUSE
2018-03-07
Open Access
No
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