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Agnieszka Jagła

Agnieszka Jagła

Title: “Love is an intervention”: loving the planet in the age of Anthropocene in The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson and Bewilderment by Richard Powers

Abstract: In this paper I would like to discuss The Stone Gods (2007) by Jeanette Winterson and Bewilderment (2021) by Richard Powers. I aim to demonstrate that both novels stress the relevance of “kin-making” between an individual and nonhuman subject, which deepens individual’s commitment to the environmental debate. Both works contemplate mankind’s calamitous mistakes resulting in climate change and species becoming endangered. While The Stone Gods follows the repetitive vicious cycle of humanity’s own self-destruction, Bewilderment focuses on the current situation – global warming and its results for the animal world. Nevertheless, in both cases the human individuals manage to create a mutually constructive relationship with nonhuman subjects in the process of kin-making. The protagonist of The Stone Gods – Billie Cruse establishes romantic relationship with the humanoid Spike, while in Bewilderment – nine-year-old Robbie reconnects with his lost mother through the interaction with the digital model of her brain. These interplays generate a significant involvement  of both individuals in their personal mission of saving the dying planet.

Applying the term Anthropocene, understood by Rebecca Evans as “re-telling modernity as a story of slow-burning disaster and inviting a response to that disaster” (490), as well as the posthumanist frameworks provided by Donna Haraway and Bruno Latour, I suggest that the novels envision the narratives of the age of Anthropocene, and scrutinize it in contrast with the personal sacrifice of protagonists prompted by their engagement with nonhuman subjects (robot, digital brain model).

Bio: Agnieszka Jagła – is a PhD student in literature studies at the Department of British Literature and Culture at the University of Łódź. Her doctoral dissertation focuses on the concept of transhumanism in selected 21st century English literature. Her research interests include transhumanism, posthumanism, trauma theory, as well as intertextuality in postmodern British literature.