Scale and the Quandaries of an ‘Environmental’ Literary Criticism (Public lecture, 10th November)


Aerial photograph of a road winding through a forest.

Aerial photograph of a road winding through a forest.


Join Professor Timothy Clark on 10th November as his IAS Fellows public lecture explores literature and climate change. The free talk starts at 17.30 in the Birley Room, Hatfield College. All welcome.

The twenty-first century has seen an increased awareness of forms of environmental destruction that cannot immediately be seen, localized or, by some, even acknowledged – planetary-scale phenomena such as climate change, ocean acidification, global overpopulation and other incremental forms of ecological degradation.

How far are inherited modes of both literature and criticism working with assumptions of scale that are now anachronistic. Can the emerging need to think of day to day human life on spatial and temporal scales that are unfamiliar be accommodated by modes of thought and ethics calibrated to normal human scales, or is the fragility of most attempts to think of literature and criticism in relation to the so-called Anthropocene the symptom of a dangerous crisis of values?? The question is focused by a comparison of issues of character and coherence in several narratives concerning climate change in some way, including Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Science in the Capital” trilogy and Will Self’s short story, “Scale”.

If you’re interested in literature and climate change, check out this podcast featuring Dr Michael Mack based on his recent book, Contaminations.

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