Novel title: Epoch of the Heart Exegesis research question: How do we write hope into the creative literature of the Anthropocene? The exegesis research question is broken down into the following sub-questions: • What are the fiction writer’s underlying political, social and moral responsibilities? • What are the limits and opportunities of realist fiction when addressing matters of climate change? • How does a writer apply active hope to a work of eco-fiction? My practice-led research PhD consists of an exegesis analysing climate-change narratives in the creative literature of the Anthropocene, and an accompanying novel – Epoch of the Heart – which will apply the learnings of the exegesis to a full-length work of allegorical eco-fiction in the realist genre. While acknowledging the plethora of rapidly increasing non-fiction climate change literature including scientific, economic, sociology research, journalism and essays, my exegesis: How do we write hope into the creative literature of the Anthropocene? specifically focuses on long-form fiction; although it will also take into account poetry, short stories, plays and the fast-growing body of work which can be seen as ‘Environmental Literature for the Anthropocene’ (Wright 2019). Further, the exegesis analyses how the rapid growth of negative information about climate change works to overwhelm the individual (Taylor & Murray 2020); leading to climate change grief, feelings of hopelessness and accompanying stasis. It proposes that writers of any literature have a responsibility to temper disaster with elements of hope, exploring the theory that hopeful literature has the power to challenge – and potentially shift – the reader’s attitude towards climate change, and that attitudinal shift is a vital step towards behavioural change. It then analyses the capacity of allegorical realist fiction as a powerful agency for human behavioural change by immersing readers within a hopeful climate change realist allegory in which they can more directly position themselves, maximising empathic engagement with that issue while planting seeds of future hope for both the protagonist and the planet.
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