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Sublime Extinctions in Anthropocene Fiction: Literary representations of geologic force in works by Ballard, McCarthy and Watkins


  • Samuel Teeland

Summary, in English

This essay examines representations of extinction in a selection of Anthropocene fiction. The Anthropocene is a potential new geological epoch, in which the human species capacity for massive ecological transformation is rivalling that of geologic processes. As the Anthropocene has grown into a subject of cultural significance, critical literary scholarship has identified implications for a possible Anthropocene fiction. A representational challenge in this regard is how to render extinction comprehensible in literature. This essay examines how extinction is manifested as a representational problem for literature in three fictional works. It explores scale, threshold and continuity in J.G Ballard’s The Drowned World (1962); archive, absence and futurity in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006); and speculation, desire and the rhetorical device of catalog in Claire Vaye Watkins’ Gold Fame Citrus (2015). I argue that these representational limits are explicable through the concept of the sublime, which in the Anthropocene occurs in response to significantly different relational terms to the nonhuman other.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Bachelor's degree


  • Languages and Literatures
  • Cultural Sciences


  • Anthropocene
  • Extinction
  • Sublime
  • J.G. Ballard
  • Cormac McCarthy
  • Claire Vaye Watkins


  • Cian Duffy (Professor)