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Patrick Whitmarsh


I am a scholar and teacher of modern and contemporary literature, with special interests in the novel after 1900, the relationship between the novel and genre fiction (such as science fiction and the gothic), and intersections of literary and environmental history. My first book, Writing Our Extinction: Anthropocene Fiction and Vertical Science, was published in April 2023 as part of the Post*45 series at Stanford University Press. The book argues that spatial descriptions across several post-1960 novels are preoccupied with verticality, imagining the earth from above (as in the views of astronauts or air travelers) and below (from spaces such as mine shafts, boreholes, and landfills). These descriptions find affinity with emerging perspectives in the sciences after World War II and alert their readers to the expanding planetary crises humanity faces in the period known as the Anthropocene—a period defined by increased attention to anthropogenic effects on planetary climate and geology. You can read a review of the book on H-Environment. Excerpts have also appeared in the journals Contemporary Literature and Modern Fiction Studies.

Selected Publications

Writing Our Extinction: Anthropocene Fiction and Vertical Science. Stanford University Press, 2023.

“‘We live below sea level’: Layered Ecologies and Regional Gothic in Karen Russell’s Swamplandia!” Forthcoming in a special issue on the Eco-Gothic in SAF: Studies in American Fiction.

“Speculative Geologies: Project Mohole and the Anthropocene Narratives of Reza Negarestani and Karen Tei Yamashita.” Contemporary Literature, vol. 62, no. 3, 2021.

“‘Science Fiction and Prehistory’: Don DeLillo’s Underworld and the Novel of the Anthropocene.” Modern Fiction Studies, vol. 67, no. 4, 2021.

Courses Taught

ENGL 100: Introduction to Literary Study (Road Narratives)
ENGL 366: The Modern British Novel