The English Department presents Robert Markley, W.D. and Sara E. Trowbridge Professor of English, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.
4:00 pm Friday, February 21, 2014
Humanities Room 119
“The Unsustainable Estate: Imagining ‘Nature’ in
Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park ”
In the late eighteenth century, traditional notions of time and history came under pressure from work in three emerging sciences: astronomy, geology, and paleontology. By cutting time loose from embodied experience and biblical chronology, these sciences challenged fundamental understandings of climate, nature, and humankind’s ability to “improve” local or regional conditions by converting wetlands and forests to agricultural production. In subtle and complex
ways, Austen’s Mansfield Park registers contemporary anxieties about climatic instability, even as the novel suggests that an appreciation of Nature is crucial to individual and social morality.
Robert Markley is a leader in the field of literary and cultural studies of science. The author of more than eighty articles, his most recent books include Dying Planet: Mars in Science and the Imagination (2005), and The Far East and the English Imagination, 1600-1730 (2006). He is the editor of the interdisciplinary journal, The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation and currently holds a Research Fellowship from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. He is completing two books: on climate and culture during the Little Ice Age (c. 1450-1800) and on the science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson.