Uncertainty Discourse: Climate Models, Gender, and Environmental Literature in the Anthropocene
This dissertation, titled “Uncertainty Discourse: Climate Models, Gender, and Environmental Literature in the Anthropocene,” takes a feminist approach to sustainability through the lens of climate science and English-language environmental fiction. I diagnose the appearance of what I call a discourse of uncertainty, which describes new constitutions of thought and social organization emerging in response to the structural uncertainties that characterize climate change. I root this discourse in the scientific practice of climate modeling, by which scientists calculate the probability, or degrees of uncertainty, of future weather scenarios. Though climate models inform socio-political preparations for a climate-changed future, their utility has gone unheeded in the humanities. I fill this gap by placing scientific and literary depictions of uncertainty into conversation to explore their epistemological and ethical implications for a climate-changing future through issues such as gender and representation, politics and sustainability, and knowledge and time. I not only trace how uncertainty is manifested in contemporary environmental literature, such as Ian McEwan’s Solar (2010) and Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior (2012), but also consider the drama of South Asian women playwrights alongside the works of feminist scholars, philosophers, and activists.