This book considers the ways in which contemporary American fiction seeks to imagine a mode of ‘planetary memory’ able to address the scalar and systemic complexities of the Anthropocene – the epoch in which the combined activity of the human species has become a geological force in its own right. Authors examine the recent emergence of a literary and cultural imaginary of planetary memory, an imaginary which attempts to give form to the complex interrelations between human and non-human worlds, between local, national, and global concerns, and, perhaps most importantly, between historical and geological pasts, presents and futures. Chapters highlight distinct regions and landscapes of the US - from the Appalachians, to the South West, the Rust Belt, New York City, Alaska, New Orleans and the Rocky Mountains – in order to examine how the ecological, economic and historical specificity of these environments is underpinned by their implication on networks of planetary significance and scope. Overall, the collection aims to study, develop, and recognise new models of cultural memory and anxious anticipation as they emerge and evolve, thus opening new conversations about practices of remembering and remembrance on an increasingly fragile planet. This book was originally published as a special issue of Textual Practice.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Planetary memory in contemporary American fiction Lucy Bond, Ben De Bruyn and Jessica Rapson
1. Future readers: narrating the human in the Anthropocene Pieter Vermeulen
2. Speculative memory, the planetary and genre fiction Richard Crownshaw
3. ‘Family territory’ to the ‘circumference of the earth’: local and planetary memories of climate change in Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behaviour Christopher Lloyd and Jessica Rapson
4. Writing the liquid city: excavating urban ecologies after Katrina Anna Hartnell
5. Realism 4°. Objects, weather and infrastructure in Ben Lerner’s 10:04 Ben De Bruyn
6. ‘I love Alaska’: posthuman subjectivity and memory on the final frontier of our ecological crisis Sebastian Groes
7. ‘In the eyeblink of a planet you were born, died, and your bones disintegrated’: scales of mourning and velocities of memory in Philipp Meyer’s American Rust Lucy Bond
8. Afterword: The time of planetary memory Claire Colebrook
Lucy Bond is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Westminster, UK. Her most recent publications include Frames of Memory after 9/11: Culture, Criticism, Politics, and Law (2015), and Memory Unbound: Tracing the Dynamics of Memory Studies (co-edited with Stef Craps and Pieter Vermeulen, 2017).
Ben De Bruyn is Associate Professor in Comparative Literature at Maastricht University, The Netherlands. He is the author of Wolfgang Iser: A Companion (2012) and co-editor of Literature Now: Key Terms and Methods for Literary History (2016). He is currently finishing his new book, The Novel and the Multispecies Soundscape (2018).
Jessica Rapson is a Lecturer in Culture, Media and Creative Industries at King’s College London, UK. She is the author of Topographies of Suffering: Buchenwald, Babi Yar, Lidice (2015), and the co-editor of The Transcultural Turn: Interrogating Memory Between and Beyond Borders (with Lucy Bond, 2014).