Beyond Apocalypse: Rethinking Genres of Climate Change (Part 1) (Panel)

Cultural Studies and Media Studies

Molly Henderson (George Washington University)

In the documentary This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein describes the limits of depicting climate change as the inevitable result of human nature driven by greed and competition. As Klein argues, this story of climate change diminishes social agency, promotes powerlessness, and displaces solutions beyond the repetition of the status quo. Several years later, capitalist realism and apocalypse remain primary modes through which climate futures are envisioned in news media, film, television, and literature. How do the dominant stories of human relationships to earth and understandings of futurity affect how the causes and solutions of climate change are imagined?

Cultural texts remain creative forms through which to critique existing responses to climate change, imagine alternatives, expand collective understandings of what is possible. This panel welcomes papers which explore such questions as:

- How does climate media facilitate or foreclose responses to climate change?

- How do the genre conventions of climate change discourses expand or constrain forms of action and political horizons?

- What is the role of fiction and nonfiction forms in mediating both the experience of climate change and the political solutions we envision?

- How can cultural texts addressing climate change avoid fostering powerlessness? How might cultural texts activate audiences?

Ultimately, this panel considers the role of cultural texts and genre assumptions in mediating responses to climate change and the possibilities of resilience these texts entail.

This panel explores genres of climate change discourse in news media, film, television, and literature in order to examine how cultural forms enable or constrain resilience.