Buster Keaton’s Climate Change

Added by: David ten Cate


In this article, Jennifer Fay reads several of Buster Keaton’s films as environmental texts in which environmental comedy takes center stage. Through this lens, she makes Keaton’s films productive for the relation between media and ecological concerns. What is particularly relevant upon reading Keaton through this lens is the way in which environmental disaster is always both the effect of human intervention in nature and a threat to human life within nature. Simultaneously, Keaton appears to forebode the impending environmental catastrophes of the 21st century, revealing the calamitous effects of the hyperindustrialization which was accelerated during the interwar period (1918-1939) in which most of Keaton’s popular films were made. All of these foreboding insights are achieved through the affective qualities of Keaton’s trademark slapstick comedy.

(Abstract by David ten Cate)

Fay, Jennifer. 2014. "Buster Keaton's Climate Change." Modernism/Modernity 12, no. 1 (January): 25-49.