The world novel, distant suffering and humanitarian sensibility after 1989
Associate Professor Debjani Ganguly
As war and terror flicker across our TVs, writers like Rushdie, McEwan and Hosseini have turned the novel into a global form, expressing a new humanitarian ethic. This project explores the makings of these World Novels across sites of ongoing global conflict, and traces their plea for sympathy back to the novel’s beginnings, in the 18th century. With the impact of globalisation, the idea of literature as a world system of production, distribution and consumption has gained considerable currency. This project identifies a key conjuncture of forces since 1989 that have given rise to a new World Novel in English. These are: global violence, instant world communication through digital technology and a new humanitarian sensibility. This project will: i) theorize the momentous transformations undergone by the novel form in our information age, ii) offer a radically new perspective on the traditional relationship between the novel and the humanitarian imagination, iii) contribute to emerging world literature scholarship on the 'human' and 'distant suffering'.
Nineteenth-Century Climate Change: Atmosphere and Culture in Romanticism
Dr Thomas Ford
To understand and adapt to climate change, we need to understand its cultural history. My project identifies a formative moment in this history in Britain in the nineteenth century, when climate was linked to culture in new ways, allowing social changes to be understood as having climatic effects. This project investigates the cultural history of climate change. It identifies a formative moment in this history, the early nineteenth century in Britain, when the modern sciences of atmosphere first came into being and when atmosphere and weather became newly central to Romantic art and literature. Climate was a central mechanism for representing and understanding how these disparate scientific and artistic activities belonged to a common cultural field. Because atmosphere was positioned as a medium of culture in this way, cultural changes could then be seen to lead to climatic changes. By shedding new light on these historical links between climate and culture, my project re-engages the humanities with the climate change debate today.