Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Studies

Document Type



Climate change is an unavoidable and real catastrophic threat to the future of Planet Earth. This dissertation is interested in how contemporary auteur cinema draws on Christian forms to give expression to the ineffability of environmental collapse. In this rhetorical generic criticism, I discuss three recent auteur films: First Reformed (2017, directed by Paul Schrader), Interstellar (2014, directed by Christopher Nolan), and mother! (2017, directed by Darren Aronofsky). In order to best rhetorically analyze these films, I perform a generic criticism which utilizes aspects of psychoanalysis and affect theory as per the work of Gunn. Each film is discussed both for its auteur qualities, but also for the Christian forms that are utilized by the auteur to express the cultural anxieties of climate change. Through this analysis, I argue several important conclusions, most importantly that current environmental cinema fails to present opportunities for intervention in global warming, forming audiences with little to no efficacy. By utilizing Christian forms to tell stories about climate change, audiences are both challenged and reaffirmed in their understandings and misconceptions about the links between contemporary Judeo-Christianity in America and global warming.



Committee Chair

McCann, Bryan



Included in

Rhetoric Commons