Contemplating Suicide:

Reflections on the novel, Anthem, by Noah Hawley

(Here’s a LINK to Dr. Jacob Lee’s presentation)
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Kurt Hupé 1969–2014
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A11… All 1?

Postscript: some Theoretical Discussion questions for Anthem.

I would never actually teach this book in a class (way too triggering!) but it would be an interesting (if challenging) choice for a faculty book club. Should you choose it for your book club, or just want to think about the novel as it relates to climate change education, I offer these discussion questions:

  1. Is Anthem a “cli fi” novel? Why or why not?
  2. Consider “climate change” as character, plot, or setting. Which lens feels right to you for this book?
  3. Choose one of the following characters, and imagine they are in your class, and at your office hours. What have they come to talk about and why? What do you have to offer them? What about them would stand out to you the most? What might you be blind to? a) Simon b) Louise c) Story d) Felix/Samson
  4. Simon, in particular, has thoughts that indicate “eco-anxiety”, but he never expresses them out loud. We only know of them through the omniscient narrator. What percentage of students have eco-anxiety that is visible/expressed vs. internal/silent. Can eco-anxiety be subconscious? Does everybody have it? What does it look like? What would an omniscient narrator observe in YOUR own thoughts about climate change?
  5. Generational tensions exist in this novel and in the “real world” (ie: “OK Boomer”) as young people learn about the problems they will inherit. How do young people today inhabit a different future than their parents? You might comment on this dialogue excerpt, from the book:
  • “There is no time for anxiety, only fear, and fear he can handle.” 380
  • The character of the Prophet says: “…as children we’re taught that growing up means being strong. Shaking and trembling are seen as a sign of weakness. So when we freeze in the face of trauma and survive, we bury those toxins deep inside. We act like everything’s normal. But everything’s not normal. A nervous breakdown in your brain — which has been sending you warnings for days or weeks or years — it’s your brain’s way of getting your attention. Ignore this. (304)



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