Au programme du 19 octobre 2021 : “le body building comme on ne vous l’a jamais présenté” & talk about “Ruins of the Future.” by Quitterie de Beauregard.

Chères Ovaliennes, chers Ovaliens,

Nous sommes heureuses de vous accueillir ce mardi 19 octobre 2021, sur le site de Serpentes en D117 pour la toute première séance des séminaires d’OVALE.

Un lien Zoom est également disponible pour celles et ceux d’entre nous exilé.e.s.

Au programme :

Une présentation détaillée du thème de cette année “Body building”. Laissez vous surprendre par l’étendue des interprétations possibles…

Puis nous écouterons Quitterie de Beauregard, Doctorante en 2ème année sous la direction de Frédéric Regard. Elle travaille sur “The End We Start From: Gender, Genesis and Genealogy in Contemporary British Apocalyptic Fiction – Angela Carter, Doris Lessing and Jeanette Winterson”. Ce mardi, elle nous proposera une première interprétation du body building (son abstract ci-dessous).

Enfin, nous clôturerons cette première séance autour d’un verre pour faire plus ample connaissance.

Venez muscler vos méninges, on vous dit à mardi !

Abstract de Quitterie de Beauregard :

Ruins of the Future: Decaying Urban Landscapes in Richard Jefferies, J.G Ballard and Angela Carter’s Speculative Fiction (After London, The Drowned World and The Passion of the New Eve)

« Tous les hommes ont un attrait secret pour les ruines » :[1] Chateaubriand’s declaration conforms to his contemporaries’ fascination for the rediscovered ruins of Antiquity, but proves to be still relevant in contemporary speculative fiction. The scopic drive motivating the contemplation of fallen civilizations is centred around the image of decaying city landscapes. If Volney[2], Chateaubriand or Mary Shelley[3] are notable example of this phenomenon spanning early to late Romanticism and provide a precedent of the ‘nostalgia for ruins’,[4] the merging of this type of portrayal with speculative fiction has proved a fertile soil for socio-political and literary explorations of the ‘city’ in its political sense, as the readers get to contemplate the ruins of their present.

The posterity of this tradition has acquired new meaning as the decay of the city mirrored contemporary anxieties – nuclear war being a central one after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which inspired numerous science-fiction tropes in both popular and critically acclaimed fiction.  As Burton Pike phrases it, the twentieth century literary city came to “express the fragmentation of the very concept of community.”[5]Indeed, the traditional division between the refined, civilized city and the vulgar, violent margins is reversed in contemporary speculative fiction: a ‘relapse into barbarism’[6] in the city, pastoral wilderness in the countryside. Those innovative takes on the image of the city lay themselves open to ecocritical, dystopian and ontological readings. To do so, I will provide an analysis of Richard Jefferies’s After London (1911), which delves both into the pastoral description of new wild England and the effect of the traumatic ‘apocalypse’ turning Londoners into barbarians’ tribes; J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World is an example of what he calls ‘inner space’[7], the speculative nature of his story linking the ruins and toxicity of London with the disrupted individual and communal psyche of the survivors. Finally, Carter’s take on another iconic city, New York, offers another perspective on the ruins as symptom and mirror of a decaying humanity, as the apocalyptic metropolis becomes the locus of consumerist and sexual greed, a reversed mirror of John’s New Jerusalem

[1] François-René de Chateaubriand, Le Génie Du Christianisme, Partie 3, Chapitre 5, Livre III. (Paris: Garnier Frères, 1828), 360.

[2] Constantin-François Volney, comte de Chasseboeuf, Les ruines, ou Méditation sur les révolutions des empires, 1791,

[3] The Last Man (1826)  is a landmark in ‘secular’ apocalyptic and speculative fiction, describing a future, 21th century Earth devastated by mysterious pandemic who provokes the extinction of humans.  It also sets the revolutionary narrative frame of one narrator-witness giving out a testimony of the last days of humanity to no-one and, so to speak, screams into the void.

[4] Andreas Huyssen, ‘Nostalgia for Ruins’, Grey Room, no. 23 (2006): 6–21.

[5] Burton Pike, The Image of the City in Modern Literature (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981), xiii.

[6] Richard Jefferies, ‘The Relapse into Barbarism’, in After London; Or, Wild England, [1885] 2004,

[7] Ballard defines it as such : “the elaboration of concepts such as the time zone, deep time and archaeopsychic time. I’d like to see more psycho-literary ideas, more meta-biological and meta-chemical concepts, private time-systems, synthetic psychologies and space-times, more of the sombre half-worlds one glimpses in the paintings of schizophrenics, all in all acomplete speculative poetry and fantasy of science” – J.G. Ballard, ‘Which Way to Inner Space?’, in A User’s Guide to the Millenium (London: Harper Collins, 2008), 198.

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