The Ministry For The Future (Worldwide Climate Teach-In Special Episode) with Sheri-Marie Harrison, Anna Kornbluh, & Min Hyoung Song

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Resonate Recordings

Special Artwork For This Episode Provided by Siteations Studio | Meg Studer

Today the Center For Mark Twain Studies and Elmira College join many schools around the globe in observing the Worldwide Teach-In On Climate & Justice. Among the focuses of the event is moving “Beyond Climate Despair.” In keeping with this motive, CMTS has produced an episode of The American Vandal Podcast centered around the 2020 CliFi novel by Kim Stanley Robinson, Ministry For The Future, which presents a vision of the near future which is harrowing and challenging, certainly, but also imagines a clear path towards reducing carbon emissions and reversing many of the worst potential outcomes of climate change.

Later today Matt Seybold will be discussing the novel as part of the Teach-In events on the Elmira College campus, drawing in part from this conversation, recorded last week, with three other literary studies scholars, who bring diverse and dynamic perspectives to the content, form, and expansive intertexts of Robinson’s novel.

Sheri-Marie Harrison is Associate Professor of English at the University of Missouri, where she researches and teaches contemporary literature and mass culture of the African Diaspora. She is the author of the book Jamaica’s Difficult Subjects: Negotiating Sovereignity in Anglophone Caribbean Literature & Criticism (Ohio State UP, 2014) as well as essays in Modern Fiction StudiesSmall AxeThe Journal of West Indian LiteratureThe Oxford Research EncyclopediaContemporaries, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. Among her ongoing projects is an author study of Marlon James, a monograph on genre in contemporary Black fiction, and she is also one of the a co-editors for the Routledge Companion to the Novel (forthcoming 2023). She has made two previous appearances on The American Vandal, to discuss HBO’s Lovecraft Country and Exterminate All The Brutes. She also recently gave a Trouble Begins Lecture on “Twain’s Anti-Sentimentality & Contemporary African-American Satire.” Additionally relevant to this episode are two essays on the neoliberal novel of migrancy (see episode bibliography below). [Twitter: @SheriMariePhD]

Anna Kornbluh is Professor of English at University of Illinois, Chicago. Her research and teaching interests center on Victorian literature and Critical Theory, with a special emphasis in formalism, Marxism, psychoanalysis, and theory of the novel. She is the author of The Order of Forms: Realism, Formalism, & Social Space (U. Chicago, 2019), Marxist Film Theory & Fight Club (Bloomsbury, 2019), and Realizing Capital: Financial & Psychic Economies in Victorian Form (Fordham UP, 2014). Her current book project, “Immediacy or, The Style of Too Late Capitalism,” concerns impersonality, objectivity, mediation, and abstraction as residual faculties of the literary in privatized urgent times. She is the founding facilitator of two scholarly cooperatives: V21 Collective and InterCcECT. She has made three previous appearance on The American Vandal, to discuss her work in progress on Autofiction and Autotheory, Showtime’s Billions, and the GameStop Bull Rally. Additionally relevant to this discussion are her essays about climate realism, strategic presentism, and the novel as critique (see episode bibliography below). [Twitter: @V21collective]

Min Hyoung Song is Professor of English & Director of the Asian American Studies Program at Boston College, as well as a steering committee member of Environmental Studies and an affiliated faculty member of African & African Diaspora Studies. He is the author of three books: Climate Lyricism (Duke UP, 2022), The Children of 1965: On Writing, and Not Writing, as an Asian American (Duke UP, 2013) and Strange Future: Pessimism and the 1992 Los Angeles Riots (Duke UP, 2005). Climate Lyricism considers how contemporary poetry and fiction, especially by Black, Native American, Asian American, and Latinx writers, can help readers develop a reading practice that allows them to focus on climate change as an everyday phenomenon. The book is open access, and can be read and/or downloaded in its entirely from the Duke University Press site. [Twitter: @minhyoungsong]

“The World’s Work” is hosted by Matt Seybold, who is executive producer of The American Vandal Podcast and resident scholar at the Center For Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College. He is also co-editor (with Michelle Chihara) of The Routledge Companion to Literature & Economics and (with Gordon Hutner) a 2019 special issue of American Literary History on “Economics & American Literary Studies in The New Gilded Age.” [Twitter: @MEASeybold]

This episode also features some special guest artwork inspired by Ministry For The Future and designed by Siteations Studio | Meg Studer. Trained as a “researcher” and a “maker,” Studer aspires to craft graphics and experiences that inform and invite engagement. A curious and creative technologist who moves fluidly between pop-up installations, print, animation, front-end, and back-end development. Check out additional designs inspired by Ministry For The Future by following @siteations on Instagram or Twitter.

This season’s special theme music is “Work Song” by Dan Reeder, courtesy of the artist and Oh Boy Records. Please check out Dan Reeder’s extraordinary catalog of music on Apple & Spotify. [Twitter: @DanReeder]

Episode Bibliography:

Chimamanda Adichie, Americanah (Knopf, 2013)

Neel Ahuja, Planetary Specters: Race, Migration, & Climate Change in the 21st-Century (UNC Press, 2021)

Lawrence Buell, Writing For An Endangered World: Literature, Cutlure, & the Environment in the U.S. & Beyond (Harvard UP, 2003)

Gregg Camfield, Sentimental Twain: Samuel Clemens In The Maze of Moral Philosophy (UPenn, 1994)

Delton Chen, Joel van der Beek, & Jonathan Cloud, “Hypothesis for a Risk Cost of Carbon: Revising the Externalities & Ethics of Climate Change” in Understanding Risks & Uncertainties in Energy & Climate Policy (Springer, 2019)

Teju Cole, Open City (Random House, 2011)

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched Of The Earth (1961)

Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? (Zero Books, 2009)

John Kenneth Galbraith, Economics & The Public Purpose (Houghton Mifflin, 1973)

Amitav Ghosh, The Great Derangement: Climate Change & The Unthinkable (U. Chicago, 2016)

Amitav Ghosh, Gun Island (Macmillan, 2019)

Amitav Ghosh, The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables For A Planet In Crisis (U. Chicago, 2021)

Sheri-Marie Harrison, “Reading The Novel of Migrancy” (Amerikastudien 64.4, 2019)

Sheri-Marie Harrison, “The Neoliberal Novel of Migrancy” from Neoliberalism & Contemporary Literary Culture (Johns Hopkins UP, 2017)

Sheri-Marie Harrison, Jamaica’s Difficult Subjects: Negotiating Sovereignity in Anglophone Caribbean Literature & Criticism (Ohio State UP, 2014)

Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), IPCC Sixth Assessment Report: Impacts, Adaptation, & Vulnerability (March 2022)

Fredric Jameson, An American Utopia: Dual Power & The Universal Army (Verso, 2016)

Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Duke UP, 1991)

Fredric Jameson, “Reification & Utopia in Mass Culture” (Social Text, Winter 1979)

Mike Judge, Idiocracy (20th Century Fox, 2006)

Ezra Klein, “The Most Important Book I’ve Read This Year” (Vox Conversations, 11.30.2020)

Julie T. Klein, Humanities, Culture, & Interdisciplinarity: The Changing American Academy (SUNY Press, 2005)

Kristopher Karnauskas, Shelly Miller, & Anna Schapiro, “Fossil Fuel Combustion Is Driving Indoor CO2 Toward Levels Harmful To Human Cognition” (GeoHealth, 4.20.2020)

David Ketterer, The Science Fiction of Mark Twain (Archon, 1984)

David Ketterer, “Recalling ‘Epoch-Eclipse & Apocalypse’ & Anticipating August 21 Eclipse” (CMTS, 8.18.2017)

Anna Kornbluh, “We Have Never Been Critical: Toward The Novel As Critique” (Novel, November 2017)

Anna Kornbluh, “Climate Realism, Capitalist & Otherwise” (Meditations, Fall 2019)

Anna Kornbluh, “Present Tense Futures of The Past” (Victorian Studies, Autumn 2016)

Andreas Malm, How To Blow Up A Pipeline (Verso, 2021)

Lydia Millet, How The Dead Dream (Counterpoint, 2007)

Scott Patterson, “Could A Carbon Coin Save The Planet?” (Wall Street Journal, 3.8.2022)

Cedric Robinson, Black Marxism: The Making of a Black Radical Tradition (Zed, 1983)

Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry For The Future (Orbit Books, 2020)

Kim Stanley Robinson, “Making The Fed’s Money Printer Go Brrrr For The Planet” (Bloomberg, 4.22.2020)

Kim Stanley Robinson, “The Greatest Story of the 1920s That We Have: The U.S.A. Trilogy by John Dos Passos” (Bookmarks, 6.13.2018)

Kim Stanley Robinson, New York 2140 (Orbit Books, 2017)

Kim Stanley Robinson, Aurora (Orbit Books, 2015)

Kim Stanley Robinson, Science In The Capitol Trilogy (2004-2007)

Kim Stanley Robinson, The Mars Trilogy (1992-1996)

Elizabeth Rush, Rising: Dispatches From The New American Shore (Milkweed, 2019)

Min Hyoung Song, Climate Lyricism (Duke UP, 2022)

Matt Seybold, “The Keynesian Theory of Jamesonian Utopia: Interdisciplinarity in Economics” in The Cambridge Companion To Literature & Economics (forthcoming)

Matt Seybold, “Keynes & Keynesianism” in The Routledge Companion To Literature & Economics (2018)

Matt Seybold, “The End of Economics” (Los Angeles Review of Books, 7.3.2017)

Matt Seybold, “Alec Baldwin, James Baldwin, & Apocalyptic Exceptionalism” (Los Angeles Review of Books Blog, 2.9.2017)

Matt Seybold & Saronik Bosu, “Economics” (High Theory, 8.14.2021)

Solmaz Sharif, Look: Poems (Graywolf, 2016)

Solmaz Sharif, Customs: Poems (Graywolf, 2022)

Min Hyuong Song, Climate Lyricism (Duke UP, 2022)

Mark Twain, Fables of Man (U. California, 1972)

Mark Twain, Which Was The Dream? (U. California, 1968)

David Wallace-Wells, “The Uninhabitable Earth” (New York Magazine, July 2017)

Nathaniel Williams, Gears & God: Technocratic Fiction, Faith, & Empire in Mark Twain’s America (U. Alabama, 2018)

Nathanial Williams, “Gears & God: What Powered Mark Twain’s Speculative Fiction?” (CMTS, 9.27.2018)

Edward Wong & Ana Swanson, “Ukraine War & Pandemic Force Nations To Retreat From Globalization” (New York Times, 3.22.2022)

Sylvia Wynter, “Unsettling The Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation – An Argument” (CR:The New Centennial Review, Fall 2003)

Sylvia Wynter, “On How We Mistook The Map For The Territory, & Reimprisoned Ourselves in Our Unbearable Wrongness of Being, of Desetre: Black Studies Toward The Human Project” in A Companion to African-American Studies (Blackwell, 2006)

Sylvia Wynter, “The Pope Must Have Been Drunk, The King of Castle a Madman: Culture As Actuality, & The Caribbean Rethinking Modernity” in Reordering of Culture: Latin America, The Caribbean, & Canada In The Hood (McGill UP, 1995)

Sylvia Wynter, “The Ceremony Must Be Found: After Humanism” (boundary 2, Autumn 1984)

Sylvia Wynter, “Sambos & Minstrels” (Social Text, Winter 1979)

Sylvia Wynter, The Hills of Hebron (1962)

Rachel Zadok, Karina Szczurek, & Jason Mykl Snyman (Ed.), Disruption: New Short Fiction From Africa (Catalyst, 2021) [Short Story Day Africa Anthology]

Behn Zeitlin, Beasts Of The Southern Wild (Fox Searchlight, 2012)

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Servant of The People (Kvartal 95 Studio, 2015-2019)[Currently Available to Netflix Subscribers in US]