CMSI Lecture: Rick Crownshaw

CMSI Lecture: Rick Crownshaw

Event date: Monday 15 February 2016, 5.30 – 7 p.m.
Location: Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Blandijnberg 2, Auditorium A

“Climate Change Fiction and the Future Anterior”; given by Dr. Rick Crownshaw (Goldsmiths, University of London)


In the fiction of climate change there is an increasing turn towards the future anterior – the dramatization of that which will have been – in the literary imagination of near-future scenarios of catastrophe and post-catastrophe. Whether the future emplotted is (post-)apocalyptic and characterised by socio-economic and ecological collapse and species extinction, or one of resilience, adaptability and sustainability, or somewhere in between, these fictions stage cultural memories of the Anthropocene and so an aetiology of the conditions that are imagined in the future but which are unfolding in the present of this literature’s production and consumption. While the future anterior gives narrative presence to that which is subject to cognitive dissonance if not disavowal, these literary projections reveal the ways that memories of the Anthropocene are mediated – typically what such texts reveal is a melancholic attachment to life lived under a fossil-fuelled capitalist modernity – and thereby gesture towards the politics of climate change and its ideological reconstruction. What the future anterior also reveals are the humanist enclosures (Cohen) and disclosures of literary memory. The challenge to the theory and practice of cultural memory in representing climate change lies in the derangement of the scales (Clark) of the humanist imagination in tracking the multiscalar dynamics of environmental mutation, across time, space, species, matter, and nonhuman and human systems. With this in mind, this paper draws on the future imaginaries of recent novelistic fictions of climate change (for example, Farris Smith, North, Amsterdam, Rich, Pendell) in exploring the expansiveness of the ecologies of memory they narrate.


Dr. Rick Crownshaw teaches in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London, is the author of The Afterlife of Holocaust Memory in Contemporary Literature and Culture (2010), editor of Transcultural Memory (2014), and a co-editor of The Future of Memory (2010, 2014). He is currently writing a book on American fictions of the Anthropocene.

All are welcome. Admission is free, and registration is not required. For more information, please contact Stef Craps.