In June 2017, I'll be returning to the Speculations Lecture Series run at King's College London to deliver a lecture on “Islands at the End of the World: The Pseudo-Apocalypses of Claire Fuller and Sam Taylor.” The talk will consider an intriguing sub-set of contemporary post-apocalyptic fiction: what I am calling the pseudo-apocalypse, in which deranged fathers whisk their children away to an engineered pastoral retreat and pretend the world has ended. Claire Fuller's Our Endless Numbered Days (2015) and Sam Taylor's The Island at the End of the World (2009) both explore this narrative structure, and their ambiguous texts force us to reconsider formal and generic boundaries between the utopian novel, dystopian fiction, post-apocalypticism, and the literary tradition of pastoral.

This talk draws on Chapter 6 of my monograph, Fictions of the Not Yet: Utopian Times in Contemporary British Fiction, which examines the most expansive scale of utopian and speculative imaginaries. Titled “Co-evolutionary futures,”  this chapter considers the totalizing scale of historical representation that post-apocalyptic narratives make possible. Claire Fuller’s Our Endless Numbered Days (2015), Sam Taylor’s The Island at the End of the World (2009), Maggie Gee’s The Flood (2004) and Jim Crace’s The Pesthouse (2007) blend speculative, science fictional elements with a self-consciously modernist experimentation of narrative voice and temporal structure. In their post-apocalyptic settings these novels move between religious and secular representations of historical time, and their different apocalypses all rehearse what I call a possible eschatology of nature, reconfiguring the relationship between humans and their natural environment. 

The talk will take place at 6pm on Monday 12th June 2017. See the poster below for further information.