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Ecological Utopia: From the Victorians to Us with Professor Deanna K. Kreisel

April 8, 2023 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm  |  Virtual Event


Please join the Friends of the Dickens Project for our spring Friends Faculty Fellowship talk series by Associate Professor Deanna K. Kreisel (University of Mississippi) who will be discussing “Ecological Utopia: From the Victorians to Us.”

Over the course of three sessions, we will have an opportunity to explore Victorian responses to their changing environment, with a particular focus on William Morris’s utopian novel News from Nowhere.

Virtual Sessions | Zoom Registration

  • April 8: Research Talk: It’s the End of the World and We Know It: Ecological Grief and the Work of Utopia
  • May 6: William Morris’ News from Nowhere, Chapters 1-20
  • June 10: Discussion: News from Nowhere Chapters 21-32, excerpts from Half-Earth Socialism by Troy Vettese and Drew Pendergrass

The first session will consist of a presentation about my current research. I am currently working on a book entitled It’s the End of the World and We Know It: Ecological Grief and the Work of Utopia, which is about ecological mourning and utopian thinking from the Victorian period to the present. The book begins with a discussion of the ‘utopia craze’ of the late 19th century—of which Morris’s novel was a key part—and also discusses the work of John Ruskin and other early environmentalist writers. The latter part of the book explores recent and present-day responses to ecological change, including literary responses, and considers our own “ecological mourning” as a legacy of Victorian thinking. It ends with a discussion of recent on-the-ground ecotopian experiments.

The second and third sessions will consist of an in-depth discussion of News from Nowhere. In Session Two we will discuss the first half of Morris’s novel and contemporary Victorian responses to it; in the final session we will discuss the second half of the novel alongside some short excerpts from recent writers on climate grief and ecotopia.

Deanna Kreisel is Associate Professor of English and co-director of Environmental Studies at the University of Mississippi. She is the author of ‘Economic Woman: Demand, Gender, and Narrative Closure in Eliot and Hardy,’ as well as articles on Victorian literature and culture in PMLA, Representations, ELH, Novel, Mosaic, Victorian Studies, Nineteenth Century Literature, and elsewhere. She is the co-editor, along with Devin Griffiths, of a special Victorian Literature and Culture issue on “Open Ecologies” and the volume ‘After Darwin: Literature, Theory, and Criticism in the Twenty-First Century.’


April 8, 2023
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm