2020 UCL Rabindranath Tagore Lecture in Comparative Literature

08 December 2020, 5:00 pm–7:00 pm

Tagore lecture

Lecture title: "Climate Justice and Urban Narrative". This is an online event via Zoom.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Florian Mussgnug

Abstract: Climate change cannot be dissociated from the stories we tell about climate. This lecture will approach climate narratives through climate justice to ask how the concept of justice inflects stories about climate change. It will explore the role that justice plays in a series of nonfiction books about climate change that focus primarily on urban futures so as to highlight recurring story templates and their implications for arguments about justice. These narratives, like a great deal of cli-fi, rely on the age-old trope of the drowning city as a symbol for the passing of civilizations. But some recent narrative works, such as Nguyễn-Võ Nghiêm-Minh's film Nước 2030 (Water 2030, 2014)  Kim Stanley Robinson's New York 2140 (2017), reenvision the drowning city so as to investigate how climate change inflects basic decisions about the value of persons and property, and to offer new stories about inequality and the possibility of justice. 

Zoom link: https://ucl.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_ZUqPxMpNQouO-9hp_fllIg

Image credit: Nước, dir. Nghiem-Minh Nguyen-Vo, 2014

About the Speaker

Professor Ursula K. Heise

Chair of the English Department at UCLA

Ursula K. Heise is co-founder of the Lab for Environmental Narrative Strategies (LENS) at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. Her research and teaching focus on contemporary literature and the environmental humanities; environmental literature, arts, and cultures in the Americas, Germany, Japan, and Spain; literature and science; science fiction; and narrative theory. Her books include, among others, Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global (Oxford University Press, 2008) and Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings of Endangered Species (University of Chicago Press, 2016), which won the 2017 book prize of the British Society for Literature and Science. She is co-editor of The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities (Routledge, 2017), editor of the series Natures, Cultures, and the Environment with Palgrave, and co-editor of the series Literature and Contemporary Thought with Routledge.  She is also producer and writer of Urban Ark Los Angeles, a documentary created as a collaboration of LENS with the public television station KCET-Link.