1st Edition

A Cultural History of Climate Change

Edited By Tom Bristow, Thomas Ford Copyright 2016
    264 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    264 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Charting innovative directions in the environmental humanities, this book examines the cultural history of climate change under three broad headings: history, writing and politics. Climate change compels us to rethink many of our traditional means of historical understanding, and demands new ways of relating human knowledge, action and representations to the dimensions of geological and evolutionary time. To address these challenges, this book positions our present moment of climatic knowledge within much longer histories of climatic experience. Only in light of these histories, it argues, can we properly understand what climate means today across an array of discursive domains, from politics, literature and law to neighbourly conversation. Its chapters identify turning-points and experiments in the construction of climates and of atmospheres of sensation. They examine how contemporary ecological thought has repoliticised the representation of nature and detail vital aspects of the history and prehistory of our climatic modernity.

    This ground-breaking text will be of great interest to researchers and postgraduate students in environmental history, environmental governance, history of ideas and science, literature and eco-criticism, political theory, cultural theory, as well as all general readers interested in climate change.

    Introduction: Climates of History, Cultures of Climate Tom Bristow and Thomas H. Ford 

    Part 1 Climates of History 

    1. Voices of Endurance: Climate and the Power of Oral History Deb Anderson 

    2. Rethinking Seasons: Changing Climate, Changing Time Christian O’Brien 

    3. The Terrestrial Envelope: Joseph Fourier’s Geological Speculation Jerome Whitington 

    4. Melancholy and the Continent of Fire Tom Bristow and Andrea Witcomb 

    5. The Anthropocene and the Long Seventeenth Century: 1550-1750 Linda Williams 

    Part 2 Climates of Writing

    6. Change Beyond Belief: Fictions of (the) Enlightenment and Simpson’s ‘Climate Change Suite’ Jayne Lewis 

    7. Fuels and Humans, Bíos and Zōē Karen Pinkus 

    8. The ‘Foreign Grave’ Motif in Victorian Medicine and Literature: Climate Therapy and The Limits of Human Environmental Control Roslyn Jolly  

    9. Climate Change and Literary History Thomas H. Ford 

    Part 3 Climates of Politics 

    10. Climate Change: Politics, Excess, Sovereignty Nick Mansfield 

    11. Para-Religions of Climate Change: Humanity, Eco-Nihilism, Apocalypse S. Romi Mukherjee 

    12. Litigation, Activism, and the Paradox of Lawfulness in an Age of Climate Change Nicole Rogers 

    13. This Is Not My Beautiful Biosphere Timothy Morton


    Tom Bristow is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, University of Melbourne, Australia.

    Thomas H. Ford is a Lecturer in English at Monash University, Australia.

    "As Gro Harlem Brundtland famously observed, "Current environmental problems require that we move beyond compartmentalization to draw the very best of our intellectual resources from every field of endeavor." This valuable collection of essays from a globally diverse group of historians and cultural scholars expands those resources in valuable ways by revealing new dimensions of the discourses surrounding climate change and the Anthropocene."James Rodger Fleming, Charles A. Dana Professor of Science, Technology, and Society, Colby College, Maine, USA

    "Understanding the way climate change is altering the world – imaginatively as much as materially – requires the serious engagement of humanities scholars who can bring with them great depths of insight about how and why humans reason and imagine. This volume is the first to bring together leading contemporary humanities scholarship about climate change into a single coherent setting. The chapters help us to think together about what changes in our climates mean. They show that the humanities are not simply a late-arriving appendage to Earth System science, to help merely in the work of translation. Their distinctive insights necessarily alter the ways in which the idea of climate change can be conceptualized and acted upon."Mike Hulme, King’s College London, UK