This month’s Bookhour Twitter Chat

#Bookhour is an open forum twitter discussion between scholars and the public that takes place the last Tuesday of the month unless otherwise stated. Find out more here.

This month’s #bookhour is on Claire Vaye Watkins’s debut novel, Gold Fame Citrus (2015) and will run from 9pm-10:30pm (UK time) on Tuesday 28th March 2017.

Emily St John Mandel writes in her review for the New York Times that Gold Fame Citrus ‘opens in a dry and broken California. Years of extreme drought have combined with ferocious winds to create a vast and rapidly expanding desert, called the Amargosa Dune Sea after one of the mountain ranges it swallowed. The sea of sand is approaching Los Angeles, and the only people left in the city are the marginal and dispossessed. Some are criminals who prefer the lawlessness of the abandoned city, while others are simply too strung out or too indifferent to disaster or too nervous about their outstanding arrest warrants to board an evacuation bus’.

Our discussion leaders for this month’s #bookhour are scholars with research interests in ecocriticism, dystopia and Hurricane Katrina. They are:

Dr Iain Williams (@IainWilliams1) who is a postdoctoral English literature tutor at the University of Edinburgh, specialising in contemporary U.S. literature. His current research project is investigating the relationship between Deep Time and water.

Pat Massey (@MasselinesSt) is a second year-PhD student a the University of Manchester. His thesis title: New Orleans Exceptionalism in the Cultural Response to Hurricane Katrina. Academic preoccupations outside of Louisiana: instances of and reactions to natural disaster; the relationship between music and literature; the mysterious art of Pecha Kucha.

Hollie Johnson (@HollieD_Johnson) is a final-year PhD student at the University of Nottingham. Her thesis focuses upon the recent environmental turn of dystopian novels after 1950, thereby moving away from reductively anthropocentric scholarly accounts of dystopia. Her project engages with the ongoing discussions around nature and environment with the specific aim of clarifying what an ecocritical approach can bring to the understanding of recent dystopian fiction.

Christina Brennan (@cmbrennan_) is a PhD student in the division of English Literature and American Studies at the University of Manchester, UK. Her thesis examines representations of natural disaster in cities in late twentieth-century and twenty-first-century North American fiction. She previously studied at the University of Leeds and her wider research interests include literature on war, migration and displacement in the United States.

The #bookhour will be led by the following questions from the discussion leaders:

  1. How does GFC depict tension between the idea of Deep Time and the danger of rapid climate change?
  2. Does GFC attempt to absorb climate change into a narrative of US exceptionalism?
  3. How effective is Watkins’ world-building? Is her extended universe convincing? See e.g. the start of section 2, the “Ray in the Limbo Mine detainment center” chapter
  4. How illuminating are the recurrent references to John Muir et al.? (N.B. the listing of Luz’s biographies on p.185)?
  5.  GFC kills off its male lead at an unconventionally early juncture? What are the implications of this for the rest of the novel?
  6. What is the significance of the character Ig?

#Bookhour is an opportunity to share thoughts and reflections on the text in question and connect with other scholars and readers. Anyone is welcome to join the chat.

Get in touch with Christina at Christina.Brennan[at]postgrad.manchester.ac.uk  if you would like to take part in #bookhour