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4 - Scales

Climate versus Embodiment

from Part II - Current Issues in Climate Change Criticism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 March 2022

Adeline Johns-Putra
Affiliation:
Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, China
Kelly Sultzbach
Affiliation:
University of Wisconsin, La Crosse
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Summary

Critical questions about the relation between literature and climate are relevant both before and after the rise of environmentalism and today’s climate politics. How does literature write the encounter between biological bodies and climate? What trends in literary form and content do critics track when they study climate change? What concepts have they then created or rethought? To answer these questions, we need to look outside the contemporary moment and compare historical periods. This chapter looks at four topics: the ‘superorganism’, the climate theory of race, the concepts of ‘hyperobject’ and ‘trans-corporeality’, and the idea that literature can ‘model’ anthropogenic climates. The Anthropocene has certainly created new configurations of climate and embodiment coupled to changes in literary form, including what sort of narrative worlds seem real to their readers. But none of this is unprecedented. Present configurations of embodiment, climate, and form are still constrained by those of the past. Critics are only beginning to understand what they are, and how they change in historical time.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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