BASCE Symposium: Climate Stories

Climate stories: Exploring the social and cultural dimensions of climate change

Climate change represents a major challenge to societies worldwide, and will become an even more pressing problem as we move further into the twenty-first century. Climate change cannot be fully understood by natural science and technology alone; the social, cultural, and political spheres are just as important as the geo-, bio-, hydro-, pedo- and atmospheres. How do people actually perceive, understand and live climate change? How does the image people have of climate change vary according to cultural and societal locations? Which organizations have been involved in tackling the problem, and how and to what extent do the interests of these stakeholders align? And last but not least: how may the insights about climate change from different academic and non-academic sources become complementary and mutually enriching?

In this symposium we explore the theme of stories as a useful common ground for the multiple perspectives on climate change. From the very beginnings of human civilization, myths about great floods and other stories about the environment have served as strategies for transmitting knowledge and social standards. Today, climate change prompts the human imagination to rehearse old stories and create new ones that question common ways of living and thinking. This holds true not just for writers, artists and film makers, but also for researchers. From the geologist collecting samples in the arctic to the research journalist interviewing politicians and climate refugees: everyone has stories to tell about climate change. How, and to what extent, do these stories convey the urgency, tangibility, and complexity of climate change?

Time: Friday 20 November 2015, 13:00 – 17:00

Location: Ravensteijn room, Kromme NieuweGracht 80, Utrecht

The number of participants will be limited. Please register by sending an e-mail to


13:30  Coffee and tea
14:00  Welcome speech
14.15 Dr. Pieter Vermeulen, Literary Studies, KU Leuven
“Narratives without Future: Figuring the End of the Human in Anthropocene Fiction”
Katie Ritson, Rachel Carson Centre, Munich
“‘The Netherlands Lives with Water’: Narrating Disaster in the Anthropocene”
Dr. Tom Idema, Comparative Literature, Utrecht University
“The (Im)possibilities of Narrating Climate Change”
15:45 Break
16:00 Round table discussion
17:00 Drinks and snacks at café Lokaal Negen, Trans 7 (a one-minute walk from the symposium venue)


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  • Bird Rose, Deborah et al. “Thinking Through the Environment, Unsettling the Humanities.” Environmental Humanities 1 (2012): 1-5.
  • Clark, Timothy. “Some Climate Change Ironies : Deconstruction, Environmental Politics, and the Closure of Ecocriticism.’ Oxford Literary Review 32.1 (2010): 131-49.
  • Hulme, Mike. “The Conquering of Climate: Discourses of Fear and Their Dissolution.” The Geographical Journal 174.1 (2008): 5-16.
  • Legano, Raul P., Joana Tavares-Reager, and Fikret Berkes. “Climate and Narrative:Environmental Knowledge in Everyday Life.” Environmental Science and Policy 32 (2013): 61-70.
  • Trexler, Adam. Anthropocene Fictions: The Novel in a Time of Climate Change. Charlottesville: U of Virginia P, 2015.
  • Trexler, Adam and Adeline Johns-Putra. “Climate Change in Literature and Literary Criticism.” WIRE’s Climate Change 2 (2011): 185-200.