Caroline Edwards deposited All Aboard for Ararat: Islands in Contemporary Flood Fiction in the group Cultural Studies on Humanities Commons 5 months, 1 week ago
In lieu of an abstract, here is the beginning of the article… One of the most striking things about speculative literature of the twenty-first century has been its increasingly focussed interest in imagining impending disaster: from the escalating likelihood of biblical deluge on a planetary scale to looming ecocatastrophes of drought and desertification; the return of “last man” narratives of global viral pandemic, as well as the collapse of oil-based petroconsumption. Analyses of fiction that deal with climate change (what has been called climate change fiction, or “cli-fi,” among the online commentariat) have started to recognise a fundamental shift from literary fiction’s preoccupation with characters’ psychological interiority, to the grander-scale attempt to understand the place of human subjects within a broader ecosphere at a time of rapid change. As Bill McKibben writes in the Introduction to the short story collection I’m With the Bears (2011): “Instead of being consumed with the relationships between people, they increasingly take on the relationship between people and everything else. On a stable planet, nature provided a background against which the human drama took place; on the unstable planet we’re creating, the background becomes the highest drama.” However, scholarship of contemporary literature has thus far overlooked an important set of narratives dedicated to examining the “highest drama” of literary setting as a subject in and of itself: flood fictions. These fictions depict a range of cataclysmic floods and encompass both the small-scale of texts whose tsunamis and deluges are local, partial and/or provisional, as well as the larger-scale and planetary accounts of rising sea levels, global disaster, and pluvial shifts in meteorology.