As a High School and Undergraduate Humanities teacher in English, you can use this lesson plan to teach literary analysis of a novel (climate fiction).
The recently recognized literary genre of ‘Cli-Fi’ is a valuable means by which students can engage with key concepts of climate change and sustainability. Such texts allow for rich interdisciplinary approaches to learning about the human impacts on the natural environment. This introductory lesson is intended to be part of a senior high school unit of 5-6 weeks, focused on the teaching of the Australian novel ‘Anchor Point’ by Alice Robinson (Affirm Press, 2015).
The story, focused on the experiences of the central character Laura, spans a period from 1984 to 2018; a time in which south eastern Australia experiences significant environmental events- floods, bushfires, drought-closely related to extreme weather events linked to climate change. While central themes in the novel relate more to family relationships, indigenous connection to land and personal identity, the impact of climate change on the natural and built environment in this region of Australia is a constant ‘character’.
Thus, the use of this lesson plan allows you to integrate the teaching of a climate science topic with a core topic in English Literature.
Use this lesson plan to help your students find answers to:
- What is climate fiction (Cli-Fi)?
- The literary analysis of a climate fiction novel.
- In the novel ‘Anchor Point’, how is climate change portrayed as a character.
About Lesson Plan
|Grade Level||High school, Undergraduate|
|Discipline||English Literature, Humanities|
|Topic(s) in Discipline||Literary Analysis, Character Development
Setting as Character, Creation of Place through Writing
Writing across Time, Visual Representation of the Structure
|Climate Topic||Introduction to climate change|
|45 min + 4-5 class periods|
An introduction to the guidelines for reading and analyzing a novel.
|Video (2.5 min)||A video to introduce climate fiction as a literary genre.|
|Reading and Discussion
(4-5 class periods)
|The literary analysis of a Cli-Fi novel- Anchor Point.
Note: This activity requires the procurement of the book, ‘Anchor Point’ by Alice Robinson (Affirm Press, 2015).
An audio file of the author’s introduction of the novel can be accessed here: (12.5 min)
Here is a step-by-step guide to using this lesson plan in the classroom/laboratory. We have suggested these steps as a possible plan of action. You may customize the lesson plan according to your preferences and requirements.
Step 1: Topic introduction and discussion
- Use this comprehensive guide, ‘Analyzing Literature: A Guide for Students’ by Sharon James McGee, Kansas State University- Salina, to teach your students how to read and analyze a literary text.
- Use pages 1-6 of the guide to give your students an overview of how to read a literary text including ‘Strategies for Reading a Work of Literature’ and understanding the ‘Terms for Analyzing Literature’.
- Use pages 22-24 to explain to your students how to write a literary analysis of a novel.
- Use the given exercises in the section, ‘Exploring Your Topic’ as classroom discussion points and/or as topics for writing exercises during the literary analysis of the novel.
- Use the sections, ‘Cultural and Historical Perspectives’ and ‘Other Perspectives for Analyzing Literature’ for explaining the different perspectives in which a literary text can be viewed or analyzed.
Step 2: Introduction to Climate Fiction (Cli-Fi)
Play the video, ‘What is Cli-Fi?’ by Stephanie LeMenager, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, to explain to your students this new genre of writing- climate fiction (Cli-Fi) which is going to be the subject of literary analysis in this lesson plan.
Step 3 : Reading and Discussion
(Note: This activity requires the procurement of the book, ‘Anchor Point’ by Alice Robinson (Affirm Press, 2015).)
- Introduce a Cli-Fi novel to your students by playing the audio interview of the author of the Cli-Fi novel, ‘Anchor Point’, Alice Robinson by Kate Evans and presented by Michael Cathcart (ABC Radio National). Use this tool to encourage your students to form initial ideas about the book and to bring focus on the characters involved and the setting for the novel.
- The audio interview and associated write-up, ‘Alice Robinson’s Anchor Point’ can be accessed here.
- Ask your students to read the book as a take-home assignment.
Class discussion of the book:
- In your discussion of ‘Anchor Point’ by Alice Robinson, focus on the experiences of the central character Laura that spans a period from 1984 to 2018; a time in which south eastern Australia experiences significant environmental events. These include floods, bushfires, drought which are related to extreme weather events linked to climate change.
- Stress in your discussions that while the central themes in the novel relate more to family relationships, indigenous connections to land and personal identity, the impact of climate change on the natural and built environment in this region of Australia is a constant ‘character’.
- Direct your students to do a literary analysis of the novel. Remind your students of the guidelines to do this as discussed before (in the first resource).
- Direct your students to use these guidelines to explore different aspects of the novel such as character development, setting as character, creation of a place through writing, writing across time, visual representation of the structure, and as an example of climate fiction.
- Discuss how ‘climate change’ is treated as a character in this novel. Finally, comment on how this Cli-Fi novel is a form of climate change communication.