Polar Bears and Evil Scientists: the Novel “Melt” and the Critical Essay “Writing about Climate Change in Popular Fiction”

Walker, Elizabeth (2014). Polar Bears and Evil Scientists: the Novel “Melt” and the Critical Essay “Writing about Climate Change in Popular Fiction” MPhil Thesis, School of English, Media Studies and Art History, The University of Queensland. doi:10.14264/uql.2014.224

       
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Author Walker, Elizabeth
Thesis Title Polar Bears and Evil Scientists: the Novel “Melt” and the Critical Essay “Writing about Climate Change in Popular Fiction”
School, Centre or Institute School of English, Media Studies and Art History
Institution The University of Queensland
DOI 10.14264/uql.2014.224
Publication date 2014
Thesis type MPhil Thesis
Supervisor Venero Armanno
Melissa Harper
Total pages 124
Language eng
Subjects 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing
2005 Literary Studies
Formatted abstract
The thesis consists of a creative project and a critical essay which investigate how a climate change theme may be developed in popular fiction. The creative project is the manuscript “Melt”, a work of women’s fiction located in the dual settings of an Australian bushfire season and a mild Antarctic summer. When television assistant Summer Wright is pressed into impersonating a TV science superstar in Antarctica she must attempt to master ice monitoring, glacial retreat and krill decline in order to keep her job. Thrust into a world she doesn’t understand, she starts to rely more and more on soap opera plotlines to help her through. The journey of the naive protagonist mirrors the reader’s journey to a greater understanding.

The critical essay examines the different narratives about climate change which are emerging from contemporary fiction. The predominant apocalyptic trope is discredited by some scholars for being disempowering and it is argued that popular fiction is proving more adept than literary fiction at tackling this issue. Novels with a climate change theme have been written in the science fiction and thriller genres but not, to date, women’s fiction. Through a close reading of three novels – “Solar” by Ian McEwan, “Flight Behaviour” by Barbara Kingsolver and “Thirst” by L.A. Larkin – I examine how fiction can act to engage readers with this issue. It is apparent that for a work of popular fiction to be successful in developing a climate change theme it must use a mixture of emotion and science. The creative project “Melt” provides an example of how popular fiction may dramatise the effect of large events in individual lives and offer hope for change.
Keyword Climate change
Romance
Comedy
Popular fiction
Ecocriticism
Genre
Science
Novel
Creative writing
Women’s fiction

 
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Created: Tue, 22 Jul 2014, 11:27:06 EST by Elizabeth Walker on behalf of Scholarly Communication and Digitisation Service