Imagining Climate Change: The Representation of Plants in Three Nordic Climate Fictions for Young Adults

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Abstract

This article analyses the role of plants in three well publicised Nordic climate fictions for young adults: Memories of Water by Emmi Itäranta, originally published in 2012, The World According to Anna (2013) by Jostein Gaarder, and Bouvetøya 2052 (2015) by Lars Mæhle. Departing from the wider scholarly field of ecocritical theory, the study draws on the developing field of cultural plant studies to examine the role allocated to plants in these fictional depictions of climate change. The analysis is based on a quantitative counting and sorting of all references to plants in the analysed fictions. The aim of this exercise is to contribute to theoretical reflections on climate fiction (cli-fi) as a literary form and to say something about the kind of literary thinking with, and about, plants that currently informs (Nordic) climate fiction for young adults, given that plants are highly important to the global climate. While broadening the discussion of climate change fiction to include a consideration of plants, the article further contributes to theoretical reflection on cli-fi through its Nordic perspective. In dialogue with Adam Trexler’s work on Anglo-American climate change fiction, the Nordic fictions examined here display both similar and diverging patterns of engagement with climate change, something that highlights the importance of reflecting on the genre with reference to a wide spectrum of local literatures.

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