Genevieve Guenther

Books

The Language of Climate Politics
Fossil-Fuel Propaganda and How to Fight It

A groundbreaking investigation into the propaganda justifying the fossil-fuel economy, The Language of Climate Politics offers readers powerful new ways to talk about the climate crisis that will help create transformative change.

In an illuminating analysis, Dr. Genevieve Guenther shows that the climate debate is not, in fact, neatly polarized, with Republicans obstructing climate action and Democrats advancing climate solutions. Partisans on the right and the left often repeat the same fossil-fuel talking points, and this repetition produces a centrist consensus upholding the status quo, even as global heating accelerates.

Weaving this analysis through fascinating critical histories of the terms that dominate the language of climate politics―the words we, alarmist, cost, growth, “India and China,” innovation, and resilience―Dr. Guenther shows how this consensus is established. Fossil-fuel interests weaponize the discourses of science, economics, and activism, co-opting and twisting climate language to help greenwash their plans for ongoing extraction. But all too often climate scientists, economists, and even advocates will unwittingly echo the false and dangerous assumptions of their supposed political opponents. This apparent agreement between foes, filtered through the news media, not only influences our common-sense yet mistaken views about the climate crisis but also enables powerful decisionmakers to justify the corporate and policy actions that threaten us all. Revealing this dynamic, Guenther shows how to transform it.

Ultimately, The Language of Climate Politics is an inspiring call to arms, a book that equips readers with powerful new terms that will enable them to fight more effectively for a livable future.

“A revelatory study … It’s a breath of fresh air.” — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“It’s hard to imagine a savvier or more useful new account of our greatest crisis. People who care about the future will cherish this smart volume, which will turn them into far more effective advocates; it is a genuine gift to the world.”

— Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature

“This is a brave, compelling, and necessary book. Guenther blasts away the most persistent myths of the climate crisis: that rapidly phasing out fossil fuels will devastate our economy; that China and India are the evil twins of climate politics; that building greater ‘resilience’ to climate impacts is a simple, catch-all solution. Guenther knows her subject and is a fabulous bullshit detector. Reading The Language of Climate Politics is an excellent way to arm yourself for the fight for a better future.”

— Jeff Goodell, author of the New York Times bestseller The Heat Will Kill You First

“This remarkable, empowering book is not just about, but a model instance of, climate communication. It makes a lucid, passionate case for moral anger directed at executives, politicians, economists, and journalists who obfuscate, exacerbate, or profit from the harms inflicted by the use of fossil fuels. If you want to understand the climate crisis and you only have time to read one book, this should be it.”

— Kieran Setiya, Professor of Philosophy, MIT, and author of Life is Hard

“An enlightening and inspiring journey through the politics of climate change. It’s a pivotal read for those committed to shaping America’s future.”

— Ro Khanna, Member of Congress 

“In this genius book, Dr. Genevieve Guenther takes the whole overwhelming universe of fossil fuel propaganda and distills it to six key words and one key narrative, exposing the rhetorical tricks used so effectively by the various powers obstructing climate action and thus ridding them of their power entirely. Dr. Guenther shows how these words have come to dominate the discourse on climate not only amongst those who seek to delay climate action but also in the increasingly watered-down proposals of those who support climate policy. This is one of the best explanations I’ve read of how the heck the climate crisis has gone unchecked for so long. I’m sure I’ll be recommending it to people for a long time.”

— Amy Westervelt, Investigative Climate Journalist, Founder, Drilled Media

“The primary obstacle to tackling the climate crisis is political, not technological. And the political battle has become a war of words. In this important book, Genevieve Guenther navigates the battlefield with insight and wit, expertly elucidating the ways in which the modern climate discourse has been polluted by bad actors with an agenda of business-as-usual dependence on fossil fuels. Read this book and be better prepared to meet the defining challenge of our time.”

— Michael E. Mann, Presidential Distinguished Professor of Earth & Environmental Science at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Our Fragile Moment

“The primary obstacle to tackling the climate crisis is political, not technological. And the political battle has become a war of words. In this important book, Genevieve Guenther navigates the battlefield with insight and wit, expertly elucidating the ways in which the modern climate discourse has been polluted by bad actors with an agenda of business-as-usual dependence on fossil fuels. Read this book and be better prepared to meet the defining challenge of our time.”

— Michael E. Mann, Presidential Distinguished Professor of Earth & Environmental Science at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Our Fragile Moment

Magical Imaginations
Instrumental Aesthetics in the English Renaissance

In the English Renaissance poetry was thought to inspire readers to become better people, but its inspirational force was also linked to ‘conjuration,’ the illegal practice of attempting to use words to invoke supernatural creatures. Magical Imaginations explores how major writers in early modern England—including Spenser, Marlowe, and Shakespeare—negotiated this troubling link between poetry and magic when they attempted to transform readers with the power of their art.

Through analyses of texts ranging from sermons and theological treatises to medical tracts and legal documents, Genevieve Guenther sheds new light on magic as a ubiquitous practice haunting the birth of English literature. Providing a fresh context for compelling readings of classic works, Magical Imaginations reveals that magic played a starring role in English literary history.

“Critically important … sensible and brilliant … of great interest not only to scholars of early modern magic but to anyone concerned with the crucial relation between human imaginative production and ideological coercion.”

— Renaissance Quarterly

“[Guenther] is a very astute reader; [her] significant, thought-provoking monograph is highly recommended reading for Renaissance scholars as well as faculty members interested in the History of Ideas.” 

— Spenser Studies

An “accomplished first book.” 

— Studies in English Literature 1500-1900

Magical Imaginations is a pleasure to read. Genevieve Guenther is an impressive researcher. [She] offers striking new insights … I recommend this book highly for its incisiveness and extraordinary scholarship.” 

― John D. Cox, Dept. of English, Hope College