Changing aesthetic climates: An introduction to key questions

Authors: Naomi Millner*, University of Bristol, Patrick Bresnihan*,
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Environment, Cultural Geography
Keywords: Environmental politics, aesthetics, climate change, science fiction, utopia
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Maurepas, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The imminent possibility of super-typhoons, tsunamis and eco-apocalyptic catastrophe provides endless fodder for media outlets and film studios that thrive off popular fears about the future (Lilley et al., 2012). From another perspective, the imagined ruins of capitalist civilization can also provide a source of escape and possibiilty beyond such apolitical, hopeless narratives; a place for experimenting with radically different scenarios (Bater, 2016; Yusoff & Gabrys 2011). It is this second perspective, and the rich vein of literary and visual work it has given rise to, that we aim to explore in this session. We are particularly interested in drawing out the diversity of progressive and radical speculative fictions: while they may share a defiant refusal of the dead-end catastrophism represented in much mainstream sci-fi, they also offer many different visions of what a more hopeful future looks like, how it will be achieved, and who or what will be involved. As well as exploring the differences and tensions between different visions of the future, we are interested in exploring the ambiguities and unresolved questions that often animate individual works and writers, and how these are brought to the surface. In this paper two of the session organisers lay out the terrain with reference to recent work in cultural geography as well as resurfacing fictional and filmic trends. They lay out key questions for the session and panel including important tensions between emergent ethical possibility and political action.

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