How to Communicate Global Warming? Tracking Narrative Streams in Ilija Trojanow’s EisTau
Hagman, Tanya Gayle
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Global warming is an extremely complex environmental issue with academic research published on the topic in a wide variety of fields. Because the multifaceted aspects of climate change traverse across so many disciplines, using literature as a means to explore the difficulties that exist in translating and communicating the implications of climate change across these borders is essential to understanding why this disconnect exists, and what can be done to possibly eliminate it. I argue that literature, in its ability to critically express the social and individual elements of global warming, can add to a deeper understanding of climate change in today’s society. This thesis examines how Ilija Trojanow’s novel EisTau (2011) interweaves distinct narrative streams about global warming and, in so doing, addresses the urgency of communication about it, as well as acts as a vessel to vent emotions of anger and despair about the willed ignorance of human contributions to climate change. Referencing the burgeoning, interdisciplinary field of ecocriticism as the theoretical framework of this thesis, the following pages examine how EisTau, as a global warming narrative, critically engages with issues of personally responding to and communicating global warming. The analysis demonstrates how Trojanow’s employment of first-person narrative to express the protagonist, Zeno Hintermeier’s, personal relationships to an Alpine glacier, the Antarctic, and his reaction to the passive and ignorant individuals around him results in a valuable literary addition to the discussion about global climate change by mirroring the current shortcomings of society’s engagement with and communication about global warming. In addition, this thesis analyzes the novel’s representation of the bombardment of media and conflicting information regarding climate change found in the short inserts placed between each chapter. To conclude, the novel embodies an individual account of what is currently lacking in society’s response to global climate change: a personal and emotional connection to nature, subjective experience to facilitate and expand knowledge, and successful communication in our globalized and mediated world.