This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.
Some of our public events are recorded and are available as podcasts via our Research English At Durham blog.
Activating Victorian Utopias for Future Use
The Department of English Studies and CNCS are delighted to welcome Eleanor Courtemanche to present a research paper on Monday 16 May. All welcome.
Fredric Jameson famously argues that in postmodern capitalism, the utopian imagination has withered; it's easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of the capitalist system. This imaginative poverty became even more pressing after the Great Crash in 2008, when it became clear how difficult it was to envision any alternative to the policies of austerity. In this situation, the hunt for utopian alternatives leads us backward, to the great wave of Victorian utopias, as much as toward the future. These hopeful stories, written between 1880 and 1910 (including Looking Backward, News from Nowhere, A Modern Utopia, and Old-New Land) envisioned audacious solutions to pressing social problems -- to class warfare, mass poverty, mechanized labor, the marginal status of women and Jews. In fact, these utopias successfully predicted many things that came to pass, including universal education, social security, health, and accident insurance, and women in the workplace. In this talk I will describe some of the aesthetic, historical, political, and disciplinary barriers to recovering the progressive politics of these utopian works, balancing a historicist approach with what the V21 Collective manifesto has identified as the new "strategic presentism" in Victorian studies.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about this event.
Research in English At Durham (READ) blog showcasing the the literary research emerging from the Department of English Studies
We host a large number of conferences, lectures and seminars each year, many of them open to the public. Find out more on our Events page.
Many of our public lectures, seminars and conferences are recorded, and can be listened to as podcasts.
- 20th January 2021
- Sensory Experiments in Nineteenth-Century Literature
- Online (Zoom)
- Dr Erica Fretwell (University of Albany) and Dr Shannon Draucker (Siena College)