The British Climate Change Fiction in the Age of the Anthropocene: Ecocritical Readings of J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World, Maggie Gee’s The Ice People and Ian McEwan’s Solar
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The Anthropocene, as a geological concept, refers to the most recent “epoch” in the Earth’s geological time in which various human activities, such as heavy industrialisation, overpopulation, abuse of natural resources, and environmental pollution, cause global-scale environmental changes. Cumulatively, they cause ecological disasters, which pose serious threats to the planet’s sustainability and the survival of not only humans but also all living beings inhabiting the Earth. So, in the Anthropocene humans are considered as a geological force capable of changing planetary ecosystems. Among various human-induced environmental transformations, climate change is probably the most dangerous one. Being one of the most prominent symptoms of the Anthropocene, climate change crisis has various thematic reflections in literary texts that foreground environmental degradation and ecological concerns about the future, such as the sustainability of the planet at a time of global warming, and species extinction. In this context, Climate Change Fiction (or, Cli-Fi), which aims to reflect these environmental concerns into literature, emerges as a new literary genre born in the age of the Anthropocene. This dissertation discusses the Earth’s entrance into a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, exploring the anthropogenic climatic changes in the Anthropocene and their outcomes through selected examples of British Cli-Fi novels: J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World (1962), Maggie Gee’s The Ice People (1998), and Ian McEwan’s Solar (2010). In this regard, the aim of this dissertation is to propose the Anthropocene as a multi-layered concept extending its geological origins to literary studies and social sciences and leaking into psychological, socio-cultural, and economic spheres, and to emphasise the entanglement of humans and nature, as well as the cooperation of the Earth sciences and the environmental humanities, through ecocritical readings of selected British climate change novels.