Finding Our Future in Fresh Consideration of Major Works I
When: June 8, 2023, 1:45 pm - Thursday
Major literary works are considered to ask, “how does a fresh reading offer us fresh insight for our own situation, facing an uncertain future?” The writers we’re examining were acknowledged as volcanic intellectual and creative forces in their own time, and in different ways they looked to the past or to distant locations in the present to wrestle with the same question that is our conference’s theme, “what will be our future?” Close attention to the inner workings of their literary works can illuminate us, too–Christians and scholars facing an uncertain future–and our own path ahead.
Jon Singleton, Harding University, “‘The Old Order Changeth’: Reading Tennyson’s Idylls of the King in 2023”
In Idylls of the King, a dying Arthur angrily insists that Sir Bedivere throw Excalibur, last symbol of his reign, into the sea. “The old order changeth, yielding place to new,” Arthur says, “And God fulfills himself in many ways, lest one good custom should corrupt the world.” Arthur attempts to build God’s kingdom in a dark, chaotic world—only to see his order toppled by those he tried to lead toward transformation. Tennyson forces questions of spiritual and institutional survival, corruption, and rebirth just as pressing for us, today, as they were for leaders and believers in mid-Victorian England.
Rachel Gould, Pepperdine University, “Friend and Stranger: Welcoming the Refugee in Voltaire’s Candide, or All for the Best”
In Candide, or All for the Best, Voltaire presents a world wrecked by one natural or political catastrophe after another. Yet these endless moments of misery can easily overshadow the numerous moments of generosity in the text when Candide and his companions experience welcome and care, despite their status as refugees. Voltaire thus offers us a hopeful image for the pressing questions of catastrophe and refugees today: a hospitality that welcomes the stranger as friend due the erasure of Otherness that occurs during tragedy.
Martin Premoli, California State University, San Bernadino, “Imagining a Just Transition in Saci Lloyd’s The Carbon Diaries”
This paper reads The Carbon Diaries by Saci Lloyd as an environmental bildungsroman—a previously undiscussed genre of cli-fi. I explore how Lloyd uses the bildungsroman genre to depict the ways in which Western modernity’s dependence on fossil fuels has led to eco-social breakdown. This breakdown is dramatized though the story of Laura (the novel’s protagonist), whose societal integration comes to a screeching halt in the wake of climate collapse. I also argue, however, that Laura’s efforts to transition into adulthood allow Lloyd to explore how the U.K. might similarly transition away from its dependence on fossil fuels.
Jon Singleton, Harding University, Convener
- Jon Singleton, Harding University, “‘The Old Order Changeth’: Reading Tennyson's Idylls of the King in 2023”
- Rachel Gould, Pepperdine University, “Friend and Stranger: Welcoming the Refugee in Voltaire’s Candide, or All for the Best”
- Martin Premoli, California State University, San Bernadino, “Imagining a Just Transition in Saci Lloyd’s The Carbon Diaries”