Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Documentary Discourses on Climate Change: A Critical Discourse Analysis of An Inconvenient Truth and An Inconvenient Sequel
by Johnson, Anna, M.A., California State University, Long Beach, 2020, 152; 27735514
Abstract (Summary)

Over the last few decades there have been attempts to spread awareness about climate change as a serious environmental and humanitarian issue through scientific and academic research, political speeches and policies, as well as mainstream media via books, television and film. Documentaries have become a particularly popular approach for communicating climate change to diverse audiences. Arguably the most well-known climate documentary, Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth came out in 2006, winning a Nobel Peace Prize shared with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Over a decade later, Gore released An Inconvenient Sequel in 2017, a rare occurrence in documentary filmmaking. These films offer two very different cinematic experiences and each film has had significantly different impacts on climate change discourse in the U.S., yet they share a similar message: climate change is a human-caused global crisis that everyone must help to address in order to save the planet for future generations. This research offers a critical discourse analysis of dominant climate discourses that arise in each film, with particular attention to themes of power, knowledge and persuasion through a Foucauldian and feminist lens. While these films are centered around global climate change, the narratives presented by Gore offer spatially and temporally contingent discourses representative of a U.S. perspective. Given the ethical issues tied up in climate change, it is worth understanding how climate discourses are circulated, reinforced and challenged, especially those featured in major documentaries that reflect a U.S. perspective yet reach audiences all over the world. In this thesis, I argue for a shift in paradigm regarding how we speak about humanity’s relationship to and embeddedness in the natural world and for greater attention to the multiplicity of existing climate discourses that acknowledge more equitable, creative, and eco-centric framings of climate change beyond those which are U.S. and human-centric.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: House-Peters, Lily
Commitee: Dallman, Suzanne, Caputi, Mary
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Geography
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 81/9(E), Masters Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Climate Change
Keywords: Critical discourse analysis
Publication Number: 27735514
ISBN: 9781658443463
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