Fall 2019 Anschutz Lecture: Allison Carruth
“Life After Earth: Speculations in World-Building from California to the Red Planet.”
Decades before a U.S. national imaginary fixated on the “new frontier” of space colonization, L.A. civil engineer William Mulholland suggested that world-building here on Earth was California’s particular manifest destiny. In retrospect, his bravado about a growing city’s land-and-water grab from the Paiute Shoshone and agricultural communities of the Owens Valley offers a prescient touchstone for subsequent dreams about moon landings and Martian colonies that have emanated, in no small measure, from California’s ever-expanding tech industries. Meanwhile, contemporary writers and artists probe the ecological and ethical hazards_—_as well as the quasi-magical promises—of these various world-building fantasies and the real-world simulations and speculations they fuel. In developing this idea, the talk puts the futurism of engineers and sci-fi writers in conversation with other cultural fields and imaginative forms, from astrobiology to lyric poetry to performance art.
Allison Carruth is the Fall 2019 Anschutz Distinguished Fellow in American Studies.