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Expecting the Unprecedented: Speculative Fiction and the Climate Events of the Future

When Jan 22, 2021
from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM
Where Zoom
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Poster of Webinar 2The Center for American Literary Studies presents

Expecting the Unprecedented:
Speculative Fiction and the Climate Events of the Future

Friday, January 22, 2021, Noon-1:00 PM EST via Zoom

Register here

Speculative fiction has recently marked a turn in American literature to imagine not just the past of "unprecedented" climate crises, but also their future. It has been well-established that speculative fiction can assist societies in imagining the future of climate crises. However, it remains to be discussed what the limits of these imaginative possibilities are. Further, what is gained and lost by referring to major climate events as "unprecedented"? Mindful of the limits of speculative fiction's potential to imagine the futures of climate change, this webinar focuses on how speculative fiction might nonetheless help make the "unprecedented" feel apprehensible for readers.

Panelists include:

  • Heather Houser, Associate Professor of English, The University of Texas at Austin.
  • Stephanie LeMenager, Moore Endowed Professor of English, The University of Oregon.
  • Claire Colebrook, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English, Philosophy, and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Penn State.

 Moderated by:

  • Jessica Klimoff, Graduate Student, Department of English, Penn State.



This webinar is part of the 2020-21 CALS “Unprecedented” Webinar Series. “Unprecedented” is a word employed frequently by media, government officials, and lay persons alike to describe the phenomena surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects. Inspired by recent events and the rhetoric used to account for them, the “Unprecedented” series of one-hour webinars feature presentations and discussion by leading scholars, writers, and activists focused on better and less well-known developments in American literature and culture (and American literary and cultural studies) that might be, and in some cases have been, described as “unprecedented.”   

For additional information, please contact Sean X. Goudie, director of the Center for American Literary Studies, at


This publication is available in alternative media on request. Penn State is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment opportunities to all qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or protected veteran status. Penn State encourages qualified persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please consult Tacee Sechler at, in advance of your participation or visit. U.Ed. LBS 21-280