Presented by Dr Naomi Booth
This talk considers the idea of positive change in relation to writing fiction about the climate crisis. Using the writer’s own experience of novel-writing as a springboard, it explores the complicated relationship that ‘dark genres’—literary genres which aim to elicit negative affects such as anxiety, disgust and horror—have to notions of positive action. Along the way, it considers works of ‘eco-horror’; the potentially escapist pleasures of apocalyptic art forms; and the emergence of ‘climate grief’ and ‘climate pessimism’ as new and ambivalent affective forces.
Naomi Booth is a fiction writer and academic. She completed my PhD research in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Sussex, where she researched the literary history of swooning. This inspired her first work of fiction, The Lost Art of Sinking (2015), an experimental novella about passing out, which was selected for New Writing North’s Read Regional campaign 2017 and won the Saboteur Award for Best Novella 2016. Her first novel, Sealed (2017), is a work of eco-horror, which was shortlisted for the Not the Booker Award 2018. Her second novel, Exit Management (2020), moves between contemporary Britain, and 1940s Budapest, and is described by the Guardian as a “timely and original dissection of class and desperation in Brexit London”.
Ideas for Positive Change is a new series of short talks, presented by Durham University academics. Inspired by the success of New Ideas for the New Normal in 2020, a range of world-class researchers return to Durham Book Festival to explore how we might build a more positive future.