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I’m leading the project “Climate Change Literacy”, which brings together my long-standing research interests in the field of literature and science studies, gender and postcolonial studies, and the environmental humanities. From October 2021, I’ll be joining the University of Duisburg-Essen as Visiting Professor of British and Anglophone Literature, after previously holding positions at the Universities of Graz, Duisburg-Essen, and Cologne. My second book, Risk and the English Novel. From Defoe to McEwan (just released in paperback edition, De Gruyter, 2021), traces the interrelated histories of the concept of risk and the novel genre from the late seventeenth century to the present, arguing for the centrality of risk perception and management for narratology and the development of the novel. In other recent volumes, I have explored Representations of Science in Twenty-First Century Fiction (Palgrave, 2019, ed. with Nina Engelhardt), and together with Roman Bartosch, the potential and limits of critical posthumanism for literary and cultural studies and its intersections with pedagogy (Teaching the Posthuman, 2019; “Reading in Ruins: Exploring Posthumanist Narrative Studies.” Open Library of Humanities, 2020-21). I’m generally interested in the potential of literary fiction to communicate climate change across different genres and media, including especially prose fiction, drama, and interactive digital narrative (see my chapter “(In)Attention and Global Drama: Climate Change Plays”, in the Elgar Research Handbook on Communicating Climate Change, 2020). Continuing my exploration of risk discourses in the medical and environmental humanities, I’m currently also working on a project on “Aging Studies and Ecocriticism: Interdisciplinary Encounters”, together with colleagues from the University of Graz and the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Aging and Care (CIRAC).

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I have been Professor of British and Anglophone Literature and Culture at the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE) since 2007. I co-direct both the UDE’s Joint Center „Urban Systems“ and the Competence Field „Metropolitan Research“ in the University Alliance Ruhr. Together with Barbara Buchenau (speaker), as co-speaker, I lead the Research Group ‘Scripts for Postindustrial Urban Futures: American Models, Transatlantic Interventions’ funded by the Volkswagen Foundation.

My research interests include literary urban studies, theories and practices of modelling, ecocriticism and climate change fiction as well as the prospective functions of both literary and pragmatic texts. In terms of periods, I have focused on the 17th and 18th centuries, on Romanticism and on the 20th and 21st centuries. 

In my recent monograph Charting Literary Urban Studies: Texts as Models of and for the City (Routledge, 2021), I synthesized my ten years of research in the field of literary urban studies and, pointing forward to the „climate change literacy“ project, explored the usefulness of model theory to literary studies. I specifically point out how texts can be seen as a type of qualitative model that can productively complement the quantitative models currently dominant in many interdisciplinary research fields. I here take my cue from model theorist Bend Mahr, who argues that models can be both „models of“ (descriptive representations of a complex system) and „models for“ (prescriptive blueprints for the future development of that system). I apply this notion to literary texts, arguing that they potentially also fulfil both functions – a notion that, we hope, will also prove useful to our understanding of climate change literacy.

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I am Associate Professor of Anglophone Literatures and Cultures and the Teaching of English at the University of Cologne. My background is in literary and cultural theories and the environmental humanities and I work on education for sustainability and resilience, inter- and transcultural learning, and inclusive education. I am also Speaker of the University of Cologne’s central Competence Area (CA IV), ‘Cultures and Societies in Transition,’ and Director of the Interdisciplinary Research Centre for Teaching in the Humanities (IFDG). 

In my last book, Literature, Pedagogy, and Climate: Text Models for a Transcultural Ecology (Palgrave Macmillan 2019), I have explored the intersections of literary studies and literature pedagogy by making a case for the role of literary writing in times of climate crises and worked on the modelling of learning objectives with regard to climate action and quality education goals. In particular, I am interested in literary fiction’s potential of imaginative scaling (see my “Scale, Climate Change, and the Pedagogic Potential of Literature: Scaling (in) the Work of Barbara Kingsolver and T.C. Boyle”, Open Library of Humanities 4.2) and in the role of creativity and aesthetics for sustainability education (see my “Reading and Teaching Fictions of Climate”, 2020).

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