Literary London Reading Group

Literary London Reading Group
13 April 2021, 6.00pm - 7.30pm

Apocalyptic London: Contagion and Airpocalypse from Mary Shelley to H. G. Wells to Lockdown

We warmly invite you to join our next session of the Literary London Reading Group where Dr Eva-Charlotta Mebius (Watts Gallery) will be leading discussion on the urban airscape of London in 19th century literature. Links to the reading are available on the LLRG website.

The meeting will be taking place virtually over zoom on Tuesday, 13th April 2021 6:00pm - 7:15pm. Attendees are required to register via the link below.


In 1950, an article in The Illustrated London News argued that it was ’aviation’ which had ‘enlarged the field of human vision and introduced the airscape.’ Some argue that the term airscape was coined by the art critic and curator Frank Rutter in 1917 in reference to the aerial art of WWI. The OED defines it as ‘a view or photograph taken from the air’. Others maintain that the term was created by the American tonalist painter Leon Dabo. In 2021, the word airscape can mean anything from a gourmet coffee storage canister to a painting by C. R. W. Nevinson. This presentation, however, will focus on the urban airscape of London in nineteenth-century literature. The talk will sketch the beginnings of a long history of apocalyptic airscapes in literature and art. More specifically, it will consider the relationship between contagion and airpocalypse in nineteenth-century representations of the urban airscape of London from Mary Shelley’s The Last Man to H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine to Lockdown. The presentation will compare and contrast four texts that engage with the airscape of London in apocalyptic terms. What can these airpocalypses of the nineteenth century teach us about the airpocalypses of the present and the airscapes of our cities in the Covid era?

About the Speaker

Dr Eva-Charlotta Mebius is an Early Career Researcher and Curator with a Ph.D. in English Literature from UCL (2020). Her thesis considered the representation of apocalypse in British and American nineteenth-century literature and art. In 2019, she co-curated the exhibition ‘Before the Deluge: Apocalyptic Floodscapes from John Martin to John Goto, 1789-Now’ at the Yale Center for British Art. In 2020, she was the Collection Online Early Career Research Fellow (Historical & Biblical) at Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village. Her work on Dickens has appeared in The Dickensian and Dickens Quarterly

Unless stated otherwise, all our events are free of charge and anyone interested in the topic is welcome to attend. Registration is required for all events. Please sign up using the booking form below.


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