Monday, 14 July 2008

Ruskin, Morris and the Terraforming of Mars

Abstract of a paper to be delivered at the 'Persistent Ruskin' Conference, Lancaster University, 18th-19th July 2008:

This paper aims to construct a Ruskinian tradition in utopian writing around the issue of work practices. It sees William Morris's News from Nowhere as the first Ruskinian utopia, but one which is twisted awry in its very moment of conception by the impact upon Morris of Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward. That archetypal clash between utopias of sustainability and utopias of scientific advancement (going all the way back to Thomas More versus Francis Bacon) is then re-enacted, but also partly reconciled, in some of the great utopias of the second half of the twentieth century. Ernest Callenbach's Ecotopia, Ursula LeGuin's The Dispossessed and above all Kim Stanley Robinson's great Mars trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars) will be shown to provide a complex contemporary home for Ruskinian-Morrisian ideals of unalienated labour, as the Gothic craftsman unexpectedly mutates into Martian terraformer.

1 comment:

Alias Guenevere said...

This is a challenging issue and a promising debate! I wish I were among the audience to receive inputs for my research.