Weak PlanetLiterature and Assisted Survival

Weak PlanetLiterature and Assisted Survival

Wai Chee Dimock

Print publication date: 2021

ISBN: 9780226477077

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Can vulnerability serve as an entry point to our recorded past and our projected future? What story does it tell about human and nonhuman life at a time when the large-scale harms of climate change are increasingly hard to ignore? Weak Planet begins with the exigencies of the present moment and traces a long history in response. Reversing our usual focus on masterful authors and hegemonic institutions, the book explores the precarious survival of literature as an assisted outcome, with implications for our collective future. Crowd-sourced authorship, subjunctive agency, and collateral resilience give us a vocabulary to think about an input-rich ecosystem. Featured here are Louise Erdrich’s and Sherman Alexie’s user-amended captivity narratives; new pastorals by Maya Lin and indigenous climate activists; non-tragic sequels to Moby-Dick by C. L. R. James, Frank Stella, and Amitav Ghosh; induced forms of Irishness in Henry James, Colm Tóibín, W. B. Yeats, and Gish Jen; and experiments in a blurry Islam in works by Henri Matisse, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and Langston Hughes. Drawing on Native American Studies, disability studies, and environmental humanities, as well as the radical empiricism of John Dewey and William James, Weak Planet offers a poetics of non-paralysis, inspired by the imperfect and incessant labor of finite beings, given a future with the help of others.

Table of Contents

Part One Revamped Genres

1 Still Hungry

Louise Erdrich and Sherman Alexie Edit Mary Rowlandson

3 Less Than Tragic

C. L. R. James, Frank Stella, and Amitav Ghosh Dilute Melville

Part Two Rebuilt Networks

4 Contagiously Irish

Colm Tóibín, W. B. Yeats, and Gish Jen Infect Henry James

5 Vaguely Islamic

Henri Matisse, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and Langston Hughes, with Paul Bowles