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4, 5, 6 Dec 2020
Climate Fiction Festival

Friday, 4 Dec

3:30-3:40 pm

Opening Remarks

Literaturhaus Berlin (Li-Be) and CLIMATE CULTURES network berlin (CCnetwork) will introduce themselves and the festival programme.

3:40-4:00 pm

1.Introduction: What is Climate Fiction?

Axel Goodbody is a Germanist, ecocritic, the co-founder of EASLCE (European Association for the Study of Literature, Culture and the Environment) and a proven expert on climate in German-language literature. In a short lecture, he will explain the key elements of climate fiction.

4:00-5:30 pm

2. Climate Classics: Staples of Climate Literature

A gorilla named Ishmael explains why civilisation has led to the destruction of mankind; a historian recalls the year 2061, when Australia was separated into climate winners and climate losers; a young farmer in the Appalachians becomes an expert on the mysterious flight behaviour of monarch butterflies. Three old and new classics of climate fiction: presented, commented on and critically analysed by the literary scholar Axel Goodbody and the literary critics Sieglinde Geisel and Martin Zähringer.

The following books will be discussed: Daniel Quinn, Ismael (1992)
Barbara Kingsolver, Flight Behavior (2012)
George Turner, The Sea and Summer (1991)

5:30-6:00 pm


6:00-7:00 pm

3. Cli fi-Rebellion: Literature and Resistance

In conversation with Martin Zähringer, author and activist Sina Kamala Kaufmann (extinction rebellion) will explain the thinking behind the Extinction Rebellion Handbook: "This Is Not A Drill". The ideas rely on direct, preferably immediate action. In her volume of short stories "Helle Materie" (Bright Matter), Kaufmann engages with the future by way of "near-fantastic stories". What does the militant generation aim to achieve? A conversation about literature and resistance.

7:00-7:30 pm


7:30-8:30 pm

4. Time Capsule 41

"Time Capsule 41" is a combination performance and reading with sound artist Jana Irmert and poet Mikael Vogel. Together with Vogel, Irmert composed a sound-requiem for the festival: A memorial to extinction. By working through the memory of the localized climate catastrophe on Easter Island and paying tribute to the extinct bird species, the dodo, the performance is meant to reflect the 6th mass extinction we face today.

Saturday, 5 Dec

2:00-3:30 pm

5. Future Bodies: The Body und Climate Change

Amy Brady is Senior Editor of the Chicago Review of Books, where she publishes "Burning Worlds", a monthly column consisting of interviews with writers of climate fiction. At the festival, she will speak with British authors Naomi Booth and Maggie Gee about bodily consciousness and bodily fear, human and non-human animals and the relationship between climate and the human body within climate fiction.

3:30-5:00 pm

6. Beyond Human: From Ecopoetry to cli fi

The cultural scientist Gregers Andersen is Denmark's most prominent climate fiction theorist and mediator. In his new book, he analysed more than 60 cli fi books and films from the German- and English-speaking realms. He will present his definition of climate fiction as well as the five typical narrative patterns (imagination forms) he has identified through his work with climate fiction. The Danish authors Siri Ranva Hjelm Jacobsen (The Sea Letters) and Theis Ørntoft (Solar) imagine the end of mankind in their work. The three of them will discuss perspectives of dystopia and utopia and Scandinavian climate fiction generally.


7. Political Glaciers: Climate Fiction in Switzerland

In Switzerland, global warming is progressing rapidly; all eyes are on the melting glaciers in the Swiss Alps. Franz Hohler and Ruth Schweikert will read from their work and speak with Marcel Hänggi, science journalist, German teacher and initiator of the Swiss Glacier Initiative. With his song "Der Weltuntergang" (The End of the World), Franz Hohler anticipated the climate crisis as early as 1973 - how does it feel when reality catches up to fiction? Further, where can literature and climate protection coexist – at one’s desk, in the political arena or perhaps in the classroom during a German class?

6:30-8:00 pm

8. Cli fi Islands: On Freedoms and Unfreedoms

Isolation, scorching heat and perennially rising sea levels: Both in their own way, Helene Bukowski (Milk Teeth) and Roman Ehrlich (Malé) deal with themes of blighted hopes, social experiments and oscillating moments of joy experienced by their protagonists, all against the backdrop of the overwhelming forces of nature. The authors will speak with Anja Johannsen about the possible freedoms of seclusion and the critical potential of the dystopian in climate fiction.

8:00-8:30 pm


8:30-10:00 pm

9. Tipping Points: Climate Facts and Climate Fictions

Ilija Trojanow and Maggie Gee will read texts about climate fiction, followed by a conversation with climate scientist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. For years Schnellnhuber has been calling onto authors to integrate the climate crisis into their narrative works. What is the current state of affairs in the field of climate and literature; is there a difference in how the German and English-speaking worlds are handling this theme? Has the shift in consciousness brought about by Fridays for Future also changed the conditions for climate fiction?

Sunday, 6 Dec.

1:00-2:30 pm

10. Ecodictatorship or Ecotopia?

Dirk C. Fleck is considered the pioneer of the German ecothriller. His first novels are dystopian and unsettling, especially "GO! The Ecodictatorship", for which he faced harsh backlash. With his later "Tahiti Trilogy", however, he shifted his focus toward the utopian. His encounters with the political-ecological movement, the Equilibrists, who commissioned the author with the literary design of an eco-social system, were a decisive factor in this shift. How did this turn from dystopia to utopia change the author? As an equilibrist, did Eric Bihl get what he was after? How does the eco-social idea carry over into today’s discourse? The panel is moderated by Martin Zähringer.

2:30-3:00 pm


3:00-4:00 pm

11. Brave New Worlds: New German Ecothrillers

Climate change as a dystopian setup has continually fascinated mystery novelists. This includes Wolf Harlander who turned the expected global freshwater shortage following the 2019 drought into a horror scenario: in his narrative, people fought for water all throughout Germany. Zoë Beck fear of total state surveillance motivated her to create a futuristic world spanning from a region in Brandenburg to a megacity engulfing the whole of the Rhine-Main area. As in climate fiction generally, the relationship between fact and fiction is crucial: How do Beck and Harlander integrate these two types of narration?

4:00-5:00 pm

12. From the Bosporus to Anatolia: Climate Fiction from Turkey

Meliz Ergin speaks with author Buket Uzuner about her cycle of climate novels "Water – Earth – Air". The heroine of these stories is the investigative journalist Defne Kaman, who takes great risks by following up on environmental scandals. Surrounding this strong female character is a world of progressive and critical contemporaries, who also stay true to their social and cultural roots.

5:00-6:00 pm


6:00 - 7:00 pm

13. Fading Landscapes: Cli fi & Nature Writing

Poet Marion Poschmann is well known for her nature-oriented literary work, which is often discussed under the label of Nature Writing. In her new book of poetry "Nimbus", she reacts more intensely and directly to anthropogenic climate change. In conversation with literary scholar, Solvejg Nitzke, the poet will explain her writing on intact landscapes, as well as on landscapes ravaged by man. How does the climate crisis influence her aesthetic?

7:00-8:00 pm

14. Cli fi Activism: Fridays For Future in Literature

The ecological crisis and the spirit of rebellion are the focus of John von Düffels novel "The Burning Lake". In conversation with literary scholar Anna-Maria Humbert, von Düffel will explain what it means to him to give a voice to the younger generation in the fight to save the environment, and how German-language literature can react to climate change and how it, perhaps, ought to.