Ecological Utopia: From the Victorians to Us

Photo of Deanna Kreisel"Over the course of three sessions, the Friends will have an opportunity to explore Victorian responses to their changing environment, with a particular focus on William Morris’s utopian novel News from Nowhere.

The first session will consist of a presentation about my current research. I am currently working on a book entitled It’s the End of the World and We Know It: Ecological Grief and the Work of Utopia, which is about ecological mourning and utopian thinking from the Victorian period to the present. The book begins with a discussion of the 'utopia craze' of the late 19th century—of which Morris’s novel was a key part—and also discusses the work of John Ruskin and other early environmentalist writers. The latter part of the book explores recent and present-day responses to ecological change, including literary responses, and considers our own “ecological mourning” as a legacy of Victorian thinking. It ends with a discussion of recent on-the-ground ecotopian experiments.

The second and third sessions will consist of an in-depth discussion of News from Nowhere. In Session Two we will discuss the first half of Morris’s novel and contemporary Victorian responses to it; in the final session we will discuss the second half of the novel alongside some short excerpts from recent writers on climate grief and ecotopia."

Deanna K. Kreisel is Associate Professor of English and co-director of Environmental Studies at the University of Mississippi. She is the author of Economic Woman: Demand, Gender, and Narrative Closure in Eliot and Hardy, as well as articles on Victorian literature and culture in PMLA, Representations, ELH, Novel, Mosaic, Victorian Studies, Nineteenth Century Literature, and elsewhere. She is the co-editor, along with Devin Griffiths, of a special issue of Victorian Literature and Culture on “Open Ecologies” as well as the volume After Darwin: Literature, Theory, and Criticism in the Twenty-First Century.

Virtual Sessions

Spring Fellow Sessions
Research Talk: It's the End of the World and We Know It: Ecological Grief and the Work of Utopia
April 8, 2023
1:00 PM PDT
zoom-video-recording button
Discussion: William Morris's News from Nowhere, Chapters 1-20 May 6, 2023
1:00 PM PDT
Discussion: News from Nowhere, Chapters 21-32, excerpts from Half-Earth Socialism by Troy Vettese and Drew Pendergrass June 10, 2023
1:00 PM PDT

Recommended Edition: Professor Kreisel recommends the Oxford World Classics edition of News from Nowhere, ISBN: 978-0199539192. You may also download the novel to read at or to listen at

The Santa Cruz Public Libraries provide support for this program.

Santa Cruz Public Libraries