“Planetary Reversal: Kim Stanley Robinson’s Utopian Plan to Save the Planet” 

Event Details

A Lecture by N. Katherine Hayles 

Presented by ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination and the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict

Rescuing the planet from climate chaos is a formidable challenge, and Kim Stanley Robinson’s acclaimed and widely discussed 2021 novel The Ministry for the Future imagines how diverse tactics, ranging from global finance and the blockchain to geoengineering and international skullduggery, might be marshaled to reverse the effects of climate change. Robinson tethers together this array of controversial approaches in an ambitious structure, utilizing a dizzying variety of narrative forms.  

In this lecture, literary critic and theorist N. Katherine Hayles examines the scope and impact of Robinson’s latest work. Does the novel’s utopian impulse harmonize with its concrete proposals for reform? Dr. Hayles will analyze and discuss Ministry’s strategies and speculate on its usefulness for ameliorating our environmental crises.

N. Katherine Hayles is the Distinguished Research Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the James B. Duke Distinguished Professor Emerita of Literature at Duke University. Her research focuses on the relations of literature, science, and technology in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Her twelve print books include Postprint: Books and Becoming Computational (Columbia, 2021), Unthought: The Power of the Cognitive Nonconscious (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2017), and How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis(Univ. of Chicago Press, 2015), in addition to over 100 peer-reviewed articles. Her books have won several prizes, including The Rene Wellek Award for the Best Book in Literary Theory for How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Literature, Cybernetics and Informatics, and the Suzanne Langer Award for Writing Machines. She has been recognized by many fellowships and awards, including two NEH Fellowships, a Guggenheim, a RockefellerResidential Fellowship at Bellagio, and two University of California Presidential Research Fellowships. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is currently at work on the book Technosymbiosis: Futures of the Human