Fossil Capitalist Realism: Petrofiction, Climate Change and the Endless Twentieth Century
There is incontrovertible evidence, public acceptance and mounting alarm that the fossil-fueled growth economy is at the root of global warming. Yet, reducing fossil fuel use remains beyond the boundaries of a certain political reality, one apparently distinct from “the reality of climate change” that scientists and critics continually invoke. This project addresses these competing realities from the standpoint of narrative form, asking: how does the realism of lowered expectations for our environmental politics relate to the realism of literary representation, which has largely ceded the task of depicting environmental crisis to non-realist genres like science fiction and apocalypse? What exactly is the “reality” named by these political and literary realisms, and why does it conflict with the reality of climate change? Analyzing works of contemporary petrofiction and the literary genres used by scholars to conduct and communicate our environmental research — like the tragedy-fable of the Anthropocene or the naturalism of New Materialism — Fossil Capitalist Realism explores the past 50 years’ twin realities of ever-heightening energy consumption and free market ideology as a question of narrative form, thinking beyond the defeating realism of energy politics today.
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