Victorian Literature, Energy, and the Ecological Imagination

Victorian Literature, Energy, and the Ecological Imagination

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Reading Victorian literature and science in tandem, Victorian Literature, Energy, and the Ecological Imagination investigates how the concept of energy was fictionalized - both mystified and demystified - during the rise of a new resource-intensive industrial and economic order. The first extended study of a burgeoning area of critical interest of increasing importance to twenty-first-century scholarship, it anchors its investigation at the very roots of the energy problem, in a period that first articulated questions about sustainability, the limits to growth, and the implications of energy pollution for the entire global environment. With chapters on Charles Dickens, John Ruskin, Robert Louis Stevenson, Joseph Conrad and H. G. Wells, Allen MacDuffie discusses the representation of urban environments in the literary imaginary, and how those texts helped reveal the gap between cultural fantasies of unbounded energy generation, and the material limits imposed by nature.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 1139991000
  • 9781139991001

Table of contents

Introduction: limited environments, fictions of escape; Part I. Thermodynamics and its Discontents: 1. The city and the sun; 2. The death of the sun at the dawn of the Anthropocene; Part II. Unsustainable Fictions: 3. Energy systems and narrative systems in Charles Dickens's Bleak House; 4. The renewable energies of Our Mutual Friend; 5. John Ruskin's alternative energy; 6. Personal fantasy, natural limits: Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde; 7. Joseph Conrad: energy, entropy, and the fictions of empire; 8. Evolutionary energy and the future: Henry Maudsley and H. G. Wells; Bibliography.
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About Allen MacDuffie

Allen MacDuffie is Assistant Professor in the English Department at the University of Texas, Austin.
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