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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Event Archive

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.

Tales of Space and Time: H.G. Wells and Victorian time travel

6th December 2016, 18:15 to 19:15, PG20, Pemberton Lecture Rooms, Palace Green, Professor Simon James

Part of the Institute of Advanced Study's Time on a Human Scale Public Lecture series

No body of writing has ever foreseen the future more perceptively than the work of H. G. Wells, and no writer has ever been in more of a hurry to establish the present in the future.

Now remembered as one of the founders of science fiction, in his lifetime Wells was one of the world’s most widely read public intellectuals, and an influential social and political thinker who enthusiastically promoted utopian projects such as world government. Wells’s political beliefs in the inevitability of progress, however, were often in tension with his scientific training, in particular with the degenerative possibilities of Darwinian evolution. Wells’s first full-length work of fiction The Time Machine sees the Time Traveller journeying to the year 802,701 and witnessing the eventual cultural and evolutionary consequences of the nineteenth century’s poor social organisation; this lecture will consider Wells’s relationship to ideals of progress in different versions of The Time Machine and across his fifty-year writing career.

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