Erin James

Sep 5, 2022

Narrative in the Anthropocene

Ohio State University Press 2022

In Narrative in the Anthropocene (Ohio State UP, 2022), Erin James poses two complementary questions: What can narrative teach us about our current geological epoch, defined and marked by the irrevocable activity of humans on the Earth’s geology and ecosystems? and What can our current geological epoch teach us about narrative? Drawing from a wide range of sources—including Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park,Maria Popova’s collective biography Figuring, Richard McGuire’s graphic novel Here,Indigenous and Afrofuturist speculative fiction, and more—James argues that a richer understanding of the forms and functions of narrative in the Anthropocene provides us with invaluable insight into how stories shape our world. At the same time, she contends that the Anthropocene alters the very nature of narrative. Throughout her exploration of these themes, James lays the groundwork for an “Anthropocene narrative theory,” introducing new modes of reading narrative in the Anthropocene; new categories of narrative time, space, narration, and narrativity; and a new definition of narrative itself as a cognitive and rhetorical tool for purposeful worldbuilding.

Prof. Erin James teaches world literatures in English, Critical Theory and literatures of the Climate Crisis at the University of Idaho.

Gargi Binju is a researcher at the University of Tübingen.

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