Modernism and the Anthropocene explores twentieth-century literature as it engages with the non-human world across a range of contexts. From familiar modernist works by D.H. Lawrence and Hart Crane to still-emergent genres like comics and speculative fiction, this volume tackles a series of related questions regarding how best to understand humanity’s increasing domination of the natural world.
Jon Hegglund is associate professor of English at Washington State University.
John McIntyre is associate professor of English at the University of Prince Edward Island.
Introduction: Modernism and the Emergent Anthropocene
Part I: Modernism-Anthropocene Encounters
Chapter 1: Revolt against the Anthropos: The Human-Environment Conflicts in D.H. Lawrence
Chapter 2: Vorticism in an Age of Climate Change
Chapter 3: Hart Crane: A Poet of Our Climate
Chapter 4: “What kind of creature uttered it…?”: A Stratigraphy of Subjectivity in Samuel Beckett’s The Unnamable
Part II: Planetary Time and Space
Chapter 5: “The Modernist Cosmos: Olaf Stapledon, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and the Crisis of Species
Chapter 6: Modernist Planets and Planetary Modernism
Chapter 7: Early Ecology and Climate Change in the Future Histories of H.G. Wells and Olaf Stapledon
Chapter 8: Second Modernism and the Aesthetics of Temporal Scale
Part III: Writing Materials
Chapter 9: Comics: Art of the Anthropocene
Chapter 10: Modernism on Ice: Marianne Moore and the Glacial Imagination
Chapter 11: Modernism’s Plastic Futures
Chapter 12: Sky and Smoke: Literary Atmospherics in Cary and Ibuse
Within the growing field of ecocritical modernist studies, examining literary modernism’s relationship to the Anthropocene is a particularly urgent task. By theorizing twentieth-century modernisms as literatures of an ‘emergent Anthropocene,’ this book opens an important conversation about the extent to which modernist aesthetic practices—from experimental novels and poetics to sci-fi, comics, and popular science writing—anticipate current concerns about the scale of human impact on the planet, the entanglement of human with more-than-human agencies, and the discrepancy between phenomenological, historical, and planetary timescales. Representing a range of critical perspectives, the chapters offer thought-provoking starting points for further investigation.
This important volume spotlights modernist engagement with the nonhuman world. Scholars and students conscious of their unraveling natural setting and strained social context are focusing on just these tensions. Modernism and the Anthropocene succeeds by mingling the ecological turn in modernist studies with the cultural-historical experience of the Anthropocene. The result is a timely contribution for literary scholars, environmental humanists, and students of our unfolding climate emergency.
At first glance, the terms “Modernism” and “Anthropocene” appear to be an unlikely and unpredictable pairing of two concepts that seem to be at odds. One is literary; the other is geological. But it is precisely this intriguing title that prompts further reading of the essay collection, Modernism and the Anthropocene: Material Ecologies of Twentieth-Century Literature, co-edited by Jon Hegglund and John McIntyre… [this] book is a conversation starter and an invitation to continue the conversation started by the editors, a conversation that should include Edith Wharton’s oeuvre. The rusty green color of the cover is reminiscent of a long-forgotten toolbox that is begging to be opened and used.