‘Station Eleven’ and an Idea for a Cross-Disciplinary Course on Collapse

The Fiction, Sociology, and Science of Societal Collapse.

November 23, 2015

Station Eleven: A Novel by Emily St. John Mandel.  Published in September of 2014

I’ve written before on the need for higher ed people to push back on the power of the collapse meme.

Paradoxically, the best way to instill confidence in the resilience of our society may be to read more books about what happens after we come undone.

For a long time I held off on reading Station Eleven. The book sat on my Kindle and my iPhone (thank you Whispersync) for months. At some point we all reach our limit with the end of the world, and I had thought that I had reached mine.

Thankfully, I succumbed to the recommendations of friends - and invested a few hours in the world of a traveling Shakespeare company (The Traveling Symphony) performing in the years following the Georgia flu.

Station Eleven is probably the best of the post-collapse novels. I’ve listed some other good post-collapse books below (I’d start with The Water Knife), and I hope that you share your recommendations.

The motto of the Traveling Symphony is Survival Is Insufficient, (with full credit given to the quotes origin from Star Trek Voyager’s Seven of Nine). This is a motto that we should keep in mind as we all navigate our seemingly new normal of endemic scarcity in early 21st century postsecondary education.

Here is an idea for a cross-disciplinary course: The Fiction, Sociology, and Science of Societal Collapse. In this course we will read the post-collapse literary canon, and discuss the reasons why society may be more fragile and more resilient than commonly understood. We will delve into the history of both collapse thinking, and historical examples of societal collapse and adaptability.

Is a course like this currently being offered on your campus?

What about this course as an open online course - a Collapse MOOC?

Some post-collapse books that I’ve read in the past few years - please add your recommendations and reviews:

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

One Second After by William R. Forstchen

California: A Novel by Edan Lepucki

What are you reading?



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