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New Review of Imagining the Future of Climate Change in American Quarterly: “The social Life of Speculation”

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It made me happy to read the review of my most recent book in the new issue of American Quarterly, the journal of the American Studies Association. I was glad partly because I think of American Studies as my main interdisciplinary home, but the journal has never before reviewed my work—neither American Sensations nor Radical Sensations was ever reviewed in its pages, though both were written with AS as the primary field imaginary. I love that the reviewer, Gabriella Friedman, sees the work as part of a larger emergent field formation centering the Social Life of Speculation, and that she sees my work as being in conversation with that of Sami Schalk, Aimee Bahng, and Michelle Commander, arguing that our four books “showcase speculative fiction studies (or perhaps, more accurately, ‘speculative studies’) as an emerging, interdisciplinary field engaging many of the key analytics of American studies: racialization, settler colonialism, imperialism, climate change, diaspora, (dis)ability, and the transnational turn.” She sees it’s not so much a genre as a mode, that “at its best, embraces wonder, uncertainty, contingency, imagination, invention, and collaboration.” I’m glad she sees that all of us strive to make our “writing accessible to a broad audience,” avoid “abstraction for its own sake,” and “invite” readers “into a kind of kinship”” with our theorizing and with the texts, acts, and objects they engage.” I love the emphasis on interdisciplinarity and world-making at the end: “The intellectual tools of literary studies—attention to the nuances of language, the construction of narratives, the conditions of knowledge production, and the stakes of representation—prove useful for articulating how speculation works, but these scholars ultimately concern themselves with how to produce new or renewed social worlds, not just interpret the world we have now.” Read the review here