Fiction, Facts, and “Facts”: How Novels and Film Shape the American Climate-Change Debate
Where: The New York Society Library
53 E. 79th St.
212-288-6900 Price: Free
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According to NASA, carbon dioxide levels in the air are at their highest in 650,000 years, seventeen of the eighteen hottest years on record have occurred since 2001, and Arctic sea ice is at its smallest in recorded history. Global warming is no longer a mere prediction. It’s here, now, and having catastrophic effects on our planet.
So why aren’t more people talking about it? Is it because climate change is too polarizing to discuss effectively? Too depressing? Too overwhelming? Featuring novelists, essayists, and cultural critics, this panel seeks to address these questions and others by exploring how climate change is fundamentally framed in popular culture—and how, in turn, popular culture helps shape our national conversations about the issue. The panel will discuss how climate change is represented in books and films; how apocalyptic/dystopic visions both galvanize and fatigue audiences; how race/gender/class and other identities inform our popular narratives about climate change; and why climate change continues to pose communication challenges to writers and artists.
Amy Brady (moderator) is the Deputy Publisher of Guernica magazine and the Senior Editor of the Chicago Review of Books, where she writes a monthly column about climate fiction. Her writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Dallas Morning News, Sierra, Pacific Standard, the New Republic, the Village Voice, TheCambridge Companion to Working-Class Literature, and elsewhere. She holds a PhD in literature from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was a recipient of a CLIR/Mellon Library of Congress Fellowship.
Jeremy Deaton writes and edits stories about climate and energy for Nexus Media News. His work can be seen in Popular Science, Quartz, Fusion, HuffPo, Business Insider, ThinkProgress, and Grist, among other outlets. He also manages theclimatechat.org, an online guide to the science of climate change communication. Jeremy holds a bachelor’s degree in Jazz Studies from the University of Southern California and a master’s degree in Media and Public Affairs from George Washington University, where he was the recipient of the Larry King Endowment Fellowship.
Omar El Akkad is an Egyptian-Canadian author and journalist. He has reported from Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and numerous other locations around the world. He is the recipient of Canada’s National Newspaper Award for Investigative Journalism and the Goff Penny Award for young journalists. His debut novel, American War, is an international bestseller and has been translated into a dozen languages. It won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers’ Award and the Oregon Book Award for fiction, and has been nominated for eight other awards. Omar lives in the woods just south of Portland.
Roy Scranton is the author of We’re Doomed. Now What?: Essays on War and Climate Change, War Porn, and Learning to Die in the Anthropocene: Reflections on the End of a Civilization. His essays on war and climate change have appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Best Science and Nature Writing 2014, and elsewhere. He holds an MA from the New School for Social Research and a PhD in English from Princeton, and has been awarded a Whiting Humanities Fellowship and a Lannan Literary Fellowship. He is currently an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame.
Ashley Shelby is the author of the novel South Pole Station, which was a New York Times Editor’s Choice, a Shelf Awareness Best Novel of 2017, and the winner of the Lascaux Prize in Fiction. She is also a former environmental journalist whose work appeared in the Nation, Sierra, and other outlets. Her first book, Red River Rising: The Anatomy of a Flood and the Survival of an American City, was released in paperback in 2017.
Michael Svoboda is a professor of writing at George Washington University. He earned his interdisciplinary PhD in Hermeneutics from Penn State University, where he also owned and operated an academic bookstore for 17 years. His research interests encompass two different disciplines: ancient rhetoric and environmental communication. In 2010 he became a regular contributor to Yale Climate Connections—formerly The Yale Forum on Climate Change & the Media—for which he now curates a monthly column on books and reports related to climate change. In 2016, he published a comprehensive survey of 60 fictional films (theatrical releases, made-for-TV movies, and straight-to-dvd stories produced since 1966) that have addressed climate change in some way. He is now working on a book that will expand and update that study.
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