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Fantasy and the Anthropocene

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The concept of the Anthropocene says that humans are primarily responsible for the current state of the world, and only we (if anyone) can fix it. In this talk, Brian Attebery will explore traditional narrative patterns and their repurposing by fantasy writers from J. R. R. Tolkien to N. K. Jemisin. Such patterns take on new purpose and significance in the context of species die-offs, climate change, and other human-caused alterations of the environment. Examples range from the killing of the forest guardian in the epic of Gilgamesh to John Crowley’s recent novel Ka.

Brian Attebery is the author of Stories about Stories: Fantasy and the Remaking of Myth and Decoding Gender in Science Fiction, among other genre studies. His work has been honored with a Pilgrim Award, two Mythopoeic Awards, and the Distinguished Scholarship Award from the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. He is a Professor of English at Idaho State University and editor of the Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts. He is currently working on a new edition of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home for the Library of America and as of January, 2019, is Leverhulme Visiting Professor at the University of Glasgow.

This talk is part of the Centre for Research in Children's Literature at Cambridge series.

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