The Anthropocene Unconscious

The Anthropocene Unconscious:Climate Catastrophe Culture

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From Ducks, Newburyport to zombie movies and the Fast and Furious franchise, how climate anxiety permeates our culture

The art and literature of our time is pregnant with catastrophe, with weather and water, wildness and weirdness. The Anthropocene – the term given to this geological epoch in which humans, anthropos, are wreaking havoc on the earth – is to be found bubbling away everywhere in contemporary cultural production. Typically, discussions of how culture registers, figures and mediates climate change focus on ‘climate fiction’ or ‘cli-fi’, but The Anthropocene Unconscious is more interested in how the Anthropocene and especially anthropogenic climate destabilisation manifests in texts that are not overtly about climate change – that is, unconsciously. The Anthropocene, Mark Bould argues, constitutes the unconscious of ‘the art and literature of our time’.

Tracing the outlines of the Anthropocene unconscious in a range of film, television and literature – across a range of genres and with utter disregard for high-low culture distinctions – this playful and riveting book draws out some of the things that are repressed and obscured by the term ‘the Anthropocene’, including capital, class, imperialism, inequality, alienation, violence, commodification, patriarchy and racial formations. The Anthropocene Unconscious is about a kind of rewriting. It asks: what happens when we stop assuming that the text is not about the anthropogenic biosphere crises engulfing us? What if all the stories we tell are stories about the Anthropocene? About climate change?


  • A scintillating work of boisterous melancholy.

    China Miéville, author of October
  • Mark Bould’s provocation kicks off a thrill-ride roller coaster of ideas, speeding us from one savvy insight to another about culture in the era of climate change. An essential read for anyone wanting to better understand what we know and don’t know about what comes next.

    Imre Szeman, author of On Petrocultures
  • If The Anthropocene Unconscious weren’t so fun to read, it might be too terrifying to think about. This is a book people will be quoting for the next twenty years.

    Gerry Canavan, co-editor of Green Planets