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Imagined Futures in the Victorian Novel
18 November, 2020, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
This is an online event.
Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic writings have a long heritage, dating back to the earliest human texts, but the modern, largely secular post-apocalyptic tradition has its genesis in nineteenth-century literature and culture. This period gave rise to a sub-genre of environmental apocalyptic fiction, a tradition rooted in anticipations of the damage Homo sapiens are capable of unleashing on the globe. In a century widely regarded as the start of the Anthropocene (the newest geological era, evidencing humankind’s marks on the strata beneath our feet) a coal economy exploited the natural world, polluting skies, waters, and earth.
In this talk, Dr Mark Frost examines Victorian environmental apocalypses, including Richard Jefferies’s attempts to destroy London through floods and storms, works by William Delisle Hay and Robert Barr envisaging the death of the capital from smog, and Grant Allen’s tale of volcanic disaster overwhelming the Thames Valley. It argues that these literary imaginings foresaw our own ecocrisis and preoccupation with the end of human life.
This event is part of the ‘Imagining New Worlds’ series by the University of Portsmouth.
Image: ‘The Houses of Parliament’ (1881), Winslow Homer, Credit: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, Gift of Joseph H. Hirshhorn, 1966.
In partnership withUniversity of Portsmouth, Square Tower Portsmouth, Portmouth Central Library
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