Award Date

May 2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Committee Member

Donovan Conley

Second Committee Member

David Henry

Third Committee Member

Emma Bloomfield

Fourth Committee Member

Denise Tillery

Number of Pages

133

Abstract

This thesis analyzes the symbolic mechanisms of guilt-redemption as developed by Kenneth Burke within two climate fiction (cli-fi) films: The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), and Interstellar (2014). In doing so, this thesis offers an account of: (1) each film’s role in providing their audience temporary assuagement of climate change related guilt, and (2) each film’s role in transmitting values and “attitudes” to build and strengthen communities. Because cli-fi films begin from a dystopic vision of a possible future, it fulfills the "blame" function of epideictic discourse to provoke and inspire the "ecological imagination." Through this provocation, the audience is provided the possibility of hope and redemption through the adoption of the film's values or “equipment.” As each film’s imagination of climate change plays out, their political attitudes are excavated to demonstrate how the texts perform and portray these values. Specifically, I argue that The Day the Earth Stood Still demonstrates an eco-Marxist orientation, while Interstellar maintains a neoliberal environmental orientation.

Keywords

Cli-Fi; Climate Change; Climate Fiction Film; Dystopia; Epideictic; "Equipment for Living"

Disciplines

Environmental Sciences | Film and Media Studies | Rhetoric

Language

English


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