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Industrial Highs and Lows in the Utopia of Agostino della Sala Spada’s Nel 2073! (1874) versus the Dystopia of Émile Souvestre’s Le monde tel qu’il sera en l’an 3000 (1846)

An online seminar hosted by The University of Western Australia. Part of the CHE Virtual Fellows Seminar Series


Image: Jean-Marc Côté, La France en l'an 2000. Les Pompiers aériens. Carte postale, France, 1910. Wikimedia Commons.

Date: Tuesday 19 July 2022
Time: 3:00pm AWST / 5:00pm AEST
Venue: Online via Zoom. Please email emotions@uwa.edu.au for connection details. 
Enquiries: emotions@uwa.edu.au

What spurred creative writers around the time of the Industrial Revolution to present the distant future with joy or terror in relatively equal measure? This paper conceived as a chapter for Italian Science Fiction and the Environmental Humanities, under contract with Liverpool University Press advances a qualitative perspective within cultural geography regarding the affective stakes of modernizing activities five generations ago. I am concerned with two pieces of anticipatory fiction from the mid-1800s that have never been analysed together despite a number of commonalities: Agostino della Sala Spada’s excited view looking ahead two centuries, and Émile Souvestre’s fearful perspective extending more than a thousand years. In the light of Jan Plamper’s The History of Emotions (2015), there is much to unpack in terms of both authors’ hyperbolic treatments of emerging technologies, perceived by the protagonists in modes ranging from admiration to disgust. Indeed, each narrative deserves to be valued with respect to the complex valences of the Global North’s role in humankind’s evolution.


Paul Gibbard (The University of Western Australia)


Daniel Finch-Race (University of Bologna) researches creative representations of environmental change in French and Italian culture since the mid-1800s. His doctoral work at the University of Cambridge focussed on ecocritical approaches to Charles Baudelaire’s urban poetry of 1857-61. Before joining the Center for the Humanities and Social Change at Ca’ Foscari, he held teaching fellowships at the University of Southampton and Durham University, an Environmental Humanities Visiting Research Fellowship at the University of Edinburgh, and a Vice-Chancellor’s Fellowship at the University of Bristol. His current project blends the environmental and medical humanities to address physical and emotional aspects of pollution in France and Italy around the time of the Industrial Revolution.