Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change

Climate change in literature and literary studies: From cli‐fi, climate change theater and ecopoetry to ecocriticism and climate change criticism

Journal Article

In the last 5 years, climate change has emerged as a dominant theme in literature and, correspondingly, in literary studies. Its popularity in fiction has given rise to the term cli‐fi, or climate change fiction, and speculation that this constitutes a distinctive literary genre. In theater, the appearance of several big‐name productions from 2009 to 2011 has inspired an increase in climate change plays. There has been a growing trend, too, of climate change poetry, thanks to the rise of ecopoetry (poetry that exhibits ecological awareness and engages with the world's current state of environmental degradation) and the launch of some key climate change poetry initiatives in the media. This prevalence of climate change literature has brought about a greater engagement with climate change in literary studies, notably the environmentally oriented branch of literary studies called ecocriticism. The increasing number of ecocritical analyses of climate change literature, particularly novels, is helping to shape a canon of climate change fiction. In a separate development, there has been greater interest in the phenomenon of climate change in literary or critical theory (the branch of literary studies concerned with literary concepts and philosophies rather than with literary texts). This development—centered on the study of climate change as a philosophical or existentialist problem—is sometimes termed climate change criticism or critical climate change. WIREs Clim Change 2016, 7:266–282. doi: 10.1002/wcc.385

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