Anthropocene fiction and world-systems analysis

Andrew Milner, James Milner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


As developed by Immanuel Wallerstein and various co-thinkers, world-systems analysis is essentially an approach to economic history and historical sociology that has been largely indifferent to literary studies. This indifference is perhaps surprising given that the Annales school, which clearly influenced Wallerstein’s work, produced a foundational account of the emergence of modern western literature in Lucien Febvre and Henri-Jean Martin’s L’apparition du livre (1958). More recently, literary scholars have attempted to apply this kind of analysis directly to their own field. The best-known instances are probably Pascale Casanova’s La republique mondiale des lettres (1999), Franco Moretti’s Distant Reading (2013) and the Warwick Research Collective’s Combined and Uneven Development (2015). More recently still, Andrew Milner in Australia and Jerry Määttä in Sweden have sought to apply “distant reading” more specifically to the genre of science fiction. Milner’s model of the “global SF field” identifies an original Anglo-French core, supplemented by more recent American and Japanese cores, longstanding Russian, German, Polish and Czech semi-peripheries, an emergent Chinese semi-periphery, and a periphery comprising the rest of the world. This essay attempts to apply that model to what Adam Trexler has termed “Anthropocene fictions” and Daniel Bloom “cli-fi”, which we treat here as a significant sub-genre of contemporary science fiction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-371
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of World-Systems Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2020


  • Climate change
  • Climate fiction
  • World-systems

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