Beyond Petroleum. Reimagining Energy in Contemporary Film and Literature

Researcher(s) CIMS

Reuben Martens

Supervisor CIMS

Daniël Biltereyst

Co-Supervisor CIMS

Frederik Dhaenens

Co-Supervisor (other)

Pieter Vermeulen (KUL)

Funded by

Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) - Personal PhD Fellowship ('Aspirant') - 2017-2021


Like climate change, the shift to alternative energy sources is not just a technological challenge but a cultural issue too, necessitating a rethinking of dominant values, narratives and cultural ideas. One important development is the emergence of the ‘energy humanities’, a subfield that examines how cultural artefacts like movies and literary texts reflect on particular sources and uses of energy. Upon closer inspection, however, the field suffers from ‘petromyopia’: a particular focus on the representation of oil, which, though understandable, implies a lack of attention to works of fiction and nonfiction that deal with electricity, solar energy and wind energy – alternative forms of energy that play increasingly important roles in a world suffering from excess carbon dioxide, and which are increasingly present in art and culture too.