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Beyond Apocalypse: Imagining Climate Futures

March 16, 2023 @
4:30 p.m.
- 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time
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Professor Ursula Heise
Professor Ursula K. Heise, UCLA


Novelists, journalists, film directors and artists have created fictional and nonfictional stories about anthropogenic climate change for the last fifty years. The majority of these stories focus on scenarios of large-scale disaster and end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it, with cities under water as a prominent motif. Such stories have been criticized for scientific inaccuracy, sensationalism, and normalization of social injustice. At the same time, prominent writers and critics have worried that standard types of narrative are not able to capture climate change at all. In this virtual lecture, Professor Ursula Heise (UCLA) will explore recent climate change narratives from different parts of the world – including North America, South America, and South East Asia – and the ways in which they negotiate the tension between large-scale disasters and the new normalcy of everyday life under conditions of climate change. Heise will argue that some of these works open up new ways of narrating climate change as portal of opportunities for greater social justice.

Professor Heise will deliver her lecture via Zoom, with a Q&A immediately to follow.  Audience members are welcome to participate in person at the Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons on the Clark University campus. Refreshments will be offered.

This event also will be live streamed:
Webinar ID: 982 1101 1818

Sponsored by the Environmental Humanities Research Collaborative through the Higgins School of Humanities at Clark University

About the Speaker

Ursula K. Heise holds the Marcia H. Howard Term Chair in Literary Studies in the Department of English and the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA. She is co-founder and current Director of the Lab for Environmental Narrative Strategies (LENS). Her research and teaching focus on the environmental humanities; contemporary environmental literature, arts, and cultures in the Americas, Germany, Japan, Spain, and Vietnam; literature and science; science fiction; and narrative theory. Her books include, among others, Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global (Oxford University Press, 2008) and Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings of Endangered Species (University of Chicago Press, 2016), which won the 2017 book prize of the British Society for Literature and Science. She is co-editor of The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities (Routledge, 2017), and co-editor of the series Literatures, Cultures, and the Environment with Palgrave. She is also producer and writer of Urban Ark Los Angeles, a documentary on urban parrots created as a collaboration of LENS with the public television station KCET-Link. Her most recent book, a co-edited essay collection on Environment and Narrative in Vietnam, will be published in 2023. She is currently at work on a book entitled Reclaiming Ecotopia: Science Fiction and Environmental Futures.



March 16, 2023
4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.


Clark University, Higgins Lounge, Dana Commons – 2nd Floor
36 Maywood Street
Worcester, MA 01610 United States
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