Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Podcast: "The Victorian Crisis of Faith in Australian Utopian Literature, 1870–1900"

I blogged in September that the keynote presentations from Changing the Climate: Utopia, Dystopia and Catastrophe, the fourth national conference on utopia, dystopia and science fiction, held by Monash University in Melbourne in August 2010, had been made available online as podcasts (in mp3 format).

The university has now uploaded the rest of the papers presented at the conference (with permission of the authors/presenters), including my own paper, "The Victorian Crisis of Faith in Australian Utopian Literature, 1870–1900" (abstract below) (click here to download the mp3). However, the sound is rather soft and some of the questions asked after the paper has been presented are almost inaudible. Also, I sound terrible - but doesn't everyone think that when they hear recordings of their own voice?

As I mentioned earlier, you should check out the papers given by John Clute and Kim Stanley Robinson, which were fantastic. Some others worth listening to: Andrew Milner's paper on a couple of influential Australian dystopian novels, Tamara Prosic's paper on ecology and Orthodox Christianity, and Tom Moylan's paper on Robinson's Science and the Capital series. My wife read the paper by Adam Brown, "'Our World is ending, but Life Must Go On...': Post-Apocalyptic Dystopias in Contemporary Children’s Films," and she sounds lovely, as always.


During the nineteenth century, advances in geology and evolutionary theory brought traditional religious beliefs into question, igniting what has often been characterised as a ‘war’ between science and religion. Some of the most diverse treatments of religious themes in Australian utopian literature come between 1870 and 1900, during the ‘Victorian Crisis of Faith.’ This paper will briefly examine the approaches to religion and science in some of the utopian writing from this period, looking at how different Australian authors have envisaged, or hoped, the relationship between science and religion would unfold in the future. Topics such as Darwinism, secularism, church reform and spiritualism will be addressed in an attempt to demonstrate that this literature displays a vast array of approaches to contemporary scientific and religious issues. It will be my contention that an examination of this utopian literature supports modern historical scholarship, which contests the stereotypical ‘science versus religion’ dichotomy and observes a more complex relationship at work.

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