Martin Paul Eve deposited Reading Very Well for Our Age: Hyperobject Metadata and Global Warming in Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven in the group LLC 20th- and 21st-Century English and Anglophone on MLA Commons 3 years, 5 months ago
In recent years, the practices of symptomatic reading have been called into question by scholars such as Stephen Best, Sharon Marcus, Cathy N. Davidson, David Theo Goldberg, Rita Felski and Bruno Latour. It is claimed that such reading has become either formulaic or politically inefficacious. This article argues, against such thinking, that Emily St. John Mandel’s Arthur C. Clarke award–winning novel Station Eleven (2014) presents several challenges for an age of so-called post-critical reading. Given that this novel is, in some ways, about how the future will ‘read’ our present, I use the metaphor of ‘metadata’ here to think through the series of ruined objects in Station Eleven that project a hyperobject-like extent across two epistemic contexts. I argue that this is a comment on interpretative reading practices and an invitation for politicised symptomatic readings of the novel. Using this approach, I show that Station Eleven is a novel that is deeply concerned with global warming and with colonial nationalist legacies, even while such concerns appear buried—or even absent—within the novel. If one takes the novel’s surface instruction to look for ‘another world just out sight’, these concerns of the early twenty-first century emerge as central to the forking futures of Mandel’s work.