Alexa Weik von Mossner
Alexa Weik von Mossner is Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Klagenfurt in Austria. Her research explores contemporary environmental culture from a cognitive ecocritical perspective. She is the author of Cosmopolitan Minds: Literature, Emotion, and the Transnational Imagination (U of Texas P 2014) and Affective Ecologies: Empathy, Emotion, and Environmental Narrative (Ohio State UP 2017), the editor of Moving Environments (Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2014), and the co-editor of The Anticipation of Catastrophe (Winter 2014), Ethnic American Literatures and Critical Race Narratology (Routledge 2022), and Empirical Ecocriticism (U of Minnesota P, 2023). Her novel, Fragile (Elzwhere Press), was published in 2023.
(Un)sheltered Hope: The Reinvention of Home in Contemporary Solarpunk
The talk will focus on the representation of sustainable dwelling in solarpunk imaginaries across a range of media, among them literature, film, art, and architecture. Conceived as an antidote to the pervasive “doom and gloom” of dystopian and post-apocalyptic modes of speculative storytelling, solarpunk understands itself as a counterculture movement that emphasizes ingenuity, optimism, independence, and community, and which recognizes “science fiction as not just entertainment but as a form of activism.” Accordingly, it asks creators and audiences to be bold and radically hopeful in the face of tremendous ecological, political, and economic odds as they imagine utopian futures and try to bring them about. The talk interrogates what kinds of Home are possible and privileged under such conditions and how creators conceive of concepts such as belonging, hospitality, sustainability, embodiment, and identity in their utopian post-oil futures. In doing so, it engages critically with solarpunk’s narrative and visual strategies and explores its fuzzy boundaries with related genres such as hopepunk, Afrofuturism, and other forms of speculative climate fiction.
Keywords: Home; hope; speculative fiction; solarpunk; post-oil future