Through the Looking Glass: An Environmentally Conscious Economy in New From Nowhere
Keywords:William Morris, News From Nowhere, Sustainability, Ruskin, Marx, Moore
This paper addresses central ecological problems that emerge in a society--and economy--built around capitalism and the mass-production of goods. When humans change the way they create products, how does this impact the worker and the environment? And furthermore, how does this ecologically sustainable approach impact humanity as a whole? I argue that, in News From Nowhere, William Morris’s push for a more authentic means of production, in valuing the worker and avoiding waste, suggests a way of creating a more environmentally conscious and viable culture focused on bringing humankind back in connection with nature. I analyze Morris’s utopia alongside environmental writings of his contemporaries, like John Ruskin (who was also writing from an Arts and Crafts movement perspective) and Karl Marx, as well as present day eco-critical theorists, such as Donna Haraway, Jason Moore, and Timothy Morton. This framework helps foreground Morris’s novel as a possible solution to ecological crisis. The solution Morris proposes goes beyond solving environmental issues, like pollution. Rather, Morris also brings humans back in connection with nature and each other. Although News From Nowhere was written in the nineteenth century, the mass-produced, consumer society that Morris opposes is still with us today, perpetuating current environmental crises.
Haraway, Donna. “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene: Staying with the Trouble.” 5 Sept. 2014. Speech. Open Transcripts. Web. 3 April 2017.
Ruskin, John. “The Nature of Gothic.” News From Nowhere, edited by Stephen Arata, Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press, 2003. pp. 277-280.
Marx, Karl. “Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844.” The Marx-Engels Reader, edited by Robert C. Tucker, 2nd ed., New York: Norton, 1978. pp. 70-81.
Morris, William. News From Nowhere. Edited by Stephen Arata, Peterborough, Ont., Broadview Press, 2003.
Morton, Timothy. “Imagining Ecology Without Nature.” Ecology Without Nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. pp. 140-169.
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Copyright (c) 2017 Lori Stanley
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