Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Utopia, Anti-Utopia, and Postsecularism in the Work of Aldous Huxley

Title: Utopia, Anti-Utopia, and Postsecularism in the Work of Aldous Huxley

Guest Speaker: Dr Sean SeegerLink opens in a new window (Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, University of Essex, UK)

Convenor: Dr Emrah AtasoyLink opens in a new window (English and Comparative Literary Studies & Institute of Advanced Study)

Date-Venue: 19 April 2023 Wednesday, 14:00-16:00 (GMT+1), TEAMS

Dear Colleagues,

We warmly invite you to our guest Dr Sean Seeger's virtual talk "Utopia, Anti-Utopia, and Postsecularism in the Work of Aldous Huxley" at 14:00 on Wednesday 19th April 2023.

This paper considers the relationship between utopia, anti-utopia, and religion in the work of Aldous Huxley. Via readings of Brave New World (1932), Ape and Essence (1948), The Perennial Philosophy (1945), and Island (1962), and with an emphasis on Huxley’s engagement with Eastern religion, I develop four main claims: (1) that there is a strikingly high degree of consistency to much of Huxley’s thinking about utopia, anti-utopia, and religion from the 1930s onward; (2) that Huxley’s prognosis for the modern world is outwardly pessimistic, both culturally and politically; (3) that from the mid-1940s to the end of his life, Huxley elaborated various positive alternatives to the pessimistic scenarios envisaged in his first two works of speculative fiction; and (4) that these positive or constructive alternatives are imaginatively synthesised in his final utopian novel, Island. On this basis, drawing on current scholarly debates about the phenomenon of postsecularism, I argue that Huxley invites characterisation as a postsecular writer and consider some of the implications of doing so.

Dr Sean Seeger is Senior Lecturer in Literature in the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies at the University of Essex. Sean’s research and teaching focus on modern literature and culture. His main areas of interest are modernist studies, utopian studies, and queer studies. His work also engages with cinema, intellectual history, and social theory. Since 2019, Sean has been collaborating with Dr Daniel Davison-Vecchione (University of Cambridge) on a series of articles on speculative fiction and social theory. They are currently working on a book-length study of the topic.

*This is an online event. TEAMSLink opens in a new window Link.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Best wishes,

Dr Emrah Atasoy

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow (EUTOPIA-SIF COFUND)