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    Becoming-lithic: elemental utopian possibility in the contemporary ecocatastrophe

    Edwards, Caroline (2023) Becoming-lithic: elemental utopian possibility in the contemporary ecocatastrophe. Textual Practice , pp. 1-24. ISSN 1470-1308.

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    This article explores an emerging cluster of ecocatastrophe narratives that locate utopian possibility within the Earth’s sub-crustal lithosphere. Texts such as N. K. Jemisin’s “Broken Earth” trilogy (2015–2017), J. G. Ballard’s The Crystal World (1966), Lars von Trier’s film Melancholia (2011), Irene Solà’s Catalan novel When I Sing, Mountains Dance (2019), and the first season of the Icelandic TV series Katla (Netflix, June 2021) uncover an inhuman ecology whose vibrant, lively agency can be discerned within the geologic temporalities of deep time. Unlike their “Hollow Earth” precursors (a late nineteenth-century subgenre of the literary utopia), in which human protagonists ventured below the Earth’s surface to discover rich worlds of utopian alterity, these contemporary lithic texts revoke their characters’ human sovereignty in images of encroaching human-lithic intimacy: a process that I call becoming-lithic. In conveying the lively potentialities of geological processes such as the rock cycle, plate tectonics, continental drift, orogenesis and subduction, igneous activity, these lithic texts encourage readers and viewers to reconsider our relationship between the geosphere and the biosphere. I trace their emerging elemental aesthetics, asking how we might parse their inhuman moments of possibility and, in the process, undertake the urgent task of decolonising utopian studies.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
    Research Centres and Institutes: Contemporary Literature, Centre for
    Depositing User: Caroline Edwards
    Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2023 09:52
    Last Modified: 29 Jun 2024 11:10


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