Change search
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf
Scientists’ Fictions and The Collapse of Western Civilization
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies. (KuFo - Kulturvetenskapliga forskargruppen)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0126-5655
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In 2014, respected historians of science Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway published an essay entitled The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future. This message-driven text uses an overtly science-fictional mode to look back at the present from the vantage point of the late twenty-fourth century. Reflecting on our present, the narrator bleakly notes that “knowledge” about fossil fuel use and climate change “did not translate into power” (2). The authors lay much of the blame for their envisaged collapse of western civilisation at the door of neoliberalism, but also present a sharp attack on present scientific practices that, while certainly founded in some regards, makes for rather uneasy reading in a post-truth age.

 

Oreskes and Conway are by no means the first scholars to turn to genre fiction, yet their contribution is particularly interesting because of their prominent positions as historians of science. In their co-authored nonfiction volume Merchants of Doubt (2010), they explored the manner in which politically-connected scientists with certain financial interests have for decades skewed the public’s understanding—and sometimes delayed US policymaking—on a variety of issues, including smoking, the causes of acid rain and the hole in the ozone layer, DDT use and climate change. In The Collapse of Western Civilization they again present themselves simultaneously as critics of science and scientists in their own right, while also using—and sometimes abusing—the conventions of science fiction to present their environmental message.

 

The Collapse of Western Civilization illustrates some of the difficulties inherent in translating scholarly work into fiction, especially if the result is presented as prophetic science fiction. In this paper, I focus on the way Oreskes and Conway navigate these tensions through framing their fictional narrative with an introduction, a “Lexicon of Archaic Terms”, notes, and an interview with the authors.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
Keyword [en]
science fiction; environmentalism; apocalypticism;
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
Comparative Literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-63793OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-63793DiVA: diva2:1142187
Conference
Erotema: A Conference on Rhetoric and Literature, 14-16 September 2017, Karlstad University
Available from: 2017-09-18 Created: 2017-09-18 Last updated: 2017-10-16Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Other links

Conference website

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Grimbeek, Marinette
By organisation
Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies
General Literature Studies

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar

Total: 10 hits
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf