Mossman Lecture | Beyond Deep Time: Scale in the Literary Imagination

Thursday, March 24, 2022 15:00to16:00

The Mossman Endowment of McGill University presents the D. Lorne Gales Lecture in the History of Science. This year's lecture entitled "Beyond Deep Time: Scale in the Literary Imagination" will be given virtually to the general public by Professor Benjamin Morgan. 

Lecture description

The idea of deep time has long been an object of cultural fear and fascination, provoking wonder at the age of the earth and anxiety about the brevity of human existence. This talk explores how speculative fiction emerged in nineteenth-century Britain as a genre that connected the human experience of time with epochs and eons that readers could never witness. This literary fascination with layered scales of time is usually interpreted as a response to the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer. But its more powerful effect was to expose how seemingly-neutral scales of time were inseparable from scales of ethical and political value.

About the speaker

Benjamin Morgan is Associate Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago. His areas of research include science and literature in nineteenth-century Britain and the environmental humanities. His first book, The Outward Mind: Materialist Aesthetics in Victorian Science and Literature, explores how early scientific studies of the human mind transformed ideas about the human experience of the arts. His current book project, In Human Scale, traces how literature and the visual arts have developed formal strategies for depicting large-scale ecological systems since the early industrial moment of the climate change era.

About the Mossman Lecture

The Mossman Collection on the History of Science and of Ideas is the gift of Drs. Donald and Dorothea Mossman. For many years, the Mossmans regularly contributed generous funds towards the development of the Mossman Collection. In 1982, an additional gift from The Friends of McGill University Inc.* established an endowment not only to purchase library materials but also to inaugurate a lecture series on the History of Science and of Ideas given by recognized scholars. To quote the Mossmans, "Though especially oriented toward the History of Science, [this donation] is intended to encourage the inclusion of important events in the History of Ideas in the periods studied....This we firmly believe will augment the cultural values inherent in the general study of the History of Science."

This lecture is supported by The Friends of McGill University Inc. The Friends of McGill University Inc. is a US corporation incorporated in 1945. It provides grants for charitable, scientific, educational, and literary activities, including providing scholarships to enable students from the US to enter McGill University.

Back to top