Robert Markley, January 31
Reception: 6:00pm, Texana Room
Lecture: 6:30pm, Stanley Marcus Reading Room
The Unsustainable Estate: Imagining Nature in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park
Mansfield Park makes us acutely aware of the passing of the seasons, and of the normative weather conditions in England during the Little Ice Age (c. 1350-1850)—a period of shorter springs and growing seasons, longer winters, and violent shifts in weather patterns across northwestern Europe. The widespread perception during Austen’s lifetime that the climate of Britain was unstable, prone to abrupt shifts and dislocations, encourages us to think about how the novel’s vision of Nature
both resists and responds to specific climatological conditions. Literary texts, like Mansfield Park, allow us to explore how climatic variability shaped perceptions of nature, society, and self during the period.
Robert Markley is the W. D. and Sara E. Trowbridge Professor of English at the University of Illinois and editor of the interdisciplinary journal, The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation. The author of more than eighty articles, his most recent books include Dying Planet: Mars in Science and the Imagination (2005), and The Far East and the English Imagination, 1600-1730 (2006). He currently holds a Research Fellowship from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, and is completing two books on climate and culture during the Little Ice Age (c. 1450-1800) and on the science-fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson.