Petro Pasts and Solar Futures: An Exploration of Critical, Creative, and Activist Solarpunk Discourse
Date of Award
While some scholars in the subject of environmentalism may be familiar with the genre of petrofiction, the emerging genre of solarpunk is much less well-known by both academics and average readers alike. It occupies many of the same spaces as petrofiction, as a genre that grapples with modern society’s relationship to energy sources of oil and renewables. However, solarpunk differs from petrofiction in the fact that it goes beyond just a literary genre, reaching out into the worlds of art and activism simultaneously. Not only is the term ‘solarpunk’ used to refer to works of art and literature, but it is also used to describe a type of person. A solarpunk is someone who engages in the critical, the creative, and the activist parts of the movement with the ultimate goals of inspiring hope for the future in themselves and others in the face of devastating climate change (Flynn, ReDes, Solarpunk Anarchist).
Through the completion of this project, I plan to become a solarpunk myself by engaging in the three major aspects of solarpunk discourse. I will do so by writing a critical essay about the genre, writing a short solarpunk fiction piece, and planning a community-based art event as an act of solarpunk activism. Through my critical essay, I plan to further explore the relationship between solarpunk and petrofiction, to discover what qualifies a work as ‘solarpunk,’ and how the definition might be pushed in a different direction in the future. In my solarpunk short story, I will discover what my own vison of a solarpunk future looks like, as inspired by the exploration of solarpunk fiction in my critical essay. Then, I will engage in an act of solarpunk activism by planning and presenting a community-based art project, the Peeler Cup Collective: Solarpunk Futures event, where I will encourage my community members to learn about solarpunk and engage in their own acts of solarpunk activism by taking the time to imagine their version of a hopeful solarpunk future. Through this project, I hope to understand what it means to be a ‘solarpunk,’ as well as showcase the incredible diversity present in solarpunk discourse.
Gilliam, Emma, "Petro Pasts and Solar Futures: An Exploration of Critical, Creative, and Activist Solarpunk Discourse" (2023). Honor Scholar Theses. 209, Scholarly and Creative Work from DePauw University.