This thesis, a study of climate fiction novels and Indigenous knowledge and poetry, argues that these texts use the power of imagination to open up alternative possibilities, otherwise foreclosed by the ideological hegemony of the capitalist climate crisis. I first explore the United States’ settler colonial history, and how the perpetuation of settler ideology over time justified the exploitative values of the capitalist system, resulting in the slow violence of our environmental crisis.
The central texts explored in this thesis are the climate fiction novels Chang-rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea and The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson, and Joy Harjo’s poem “Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings.” All of these texts were published in the United States between 2013 and 2020. Both novels I’ve chosen imagine a world ruled by institutional power and profit. My analysis begins to identify and define an emerging genre of institutional and bureaucratic fiction, which explores the impact of these things on our world.
By combining paradigms from three fields—literature, sociology, and environmental science—this thesis offers several findings about the ability of climate fiction and Indigenous poetry to help us better understand the relationship between settler colonialism, capitalism, and the environmental crisis, and how to imagine a world beyond them.
Although climate fiction and poetry have not reached the mass public yet, many of these texts have the capacity to serve as vehicles for radical imagination if given adequate attention. By examining authors’ ability to speculate on the future, I identify the literary innovation and ideological invention that these texts create.
Pellegrino, Zoe F., "Capitalocene Imaginations: Settler Colonialism, Capitalism, and the Environmental Crisis in Twenty-First-Century U.S. Literature" (2022). English Honors Papers. 61.
The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.