Carnegie Mellon University

Studying the Novel in the Climate Crisis

Caroline Levine
David and Kathleen Ryan Professor of Humanities at Cornell University

Caroline Levine has spent her career asking how and why the humanities and the arts matter, especially in democratic societies. She argues for an understanding of forms and structures as essential both to understanding links between art and society and to the challenge of taking meaningful political action. She is the author of four books. The Activist Humanist: Form and Method in the Climate Crisis, forthcoming from Princeton University Press in 2023, grows out of the theoretical work of Forms: Whole, Rhythm, Hierarchy, Network (2015, winner of the James Russell Lowell Prize from the MLA, and named one of Flavorwire’s “10 Must-Read Academic Books of 2015”). Levine has also published The Serious Pleasures of Suspense: Victorian Realism and Narrative Doubt (2003, winner of the Perkins Prize for the best book in narrative studies) and Provoking Democracy: Why We Need the Arts (2007).

"Studying the Novel in the Climate Crisis"

Lecture: March 23rd at 4:30pm, Posner Grand Room

Can the study of the novel help us to address the accelerating climate catastrophe? This talk will offer three unconventional hypotheses. The first is that the novel’s forms afford a limited scope of thought and action that prevent us from developing effective political responses. The second is that the dominant aesthetic values of the past century are being put to use to support neoliberal and climate denialist agendas. And the third is that the realist novel has some specific tools for modeling sustainability that might give us some ways forward. The upshot? Ecocritical literary studies needs a new account of form, a new set of aesthetic values, and a new canon.

Seminar with Caroline Levine

March 24, 2023,12:00-1:15, BH 254Q 

Reading: "Structures All the Way Down: Literary Methods and the Detail"

Lunch served, registration required. 

Register now