The Stature of Man: Population Bomb on Spaceship Earth

  • Joan Lubin
Chapter
Part of the Geocriticism and Spatial Literary Studies book series (GSLS)

Abstract

The “Anthropocene” gives a new name to a phenomenon a long time in the making. This chapter suggests the aesthetic and epistemological ramifications of this epochal designation are likewise newly visible, but not altogether new. The chapter delineates the forms and functions of a set of cultural texts of the 1940s–70s that prefigure the scalar analytics envisioned by recent discussions of climate change in the humanities. Reading Richard Matheson’s The Shrinking Man with exhortations to population control by Fairfield Osborne, William Vogt, Paul Ehrlich, and the Club of Rome, Lubin charts a genealogy of parametric planetarity to recast contemporary Anthropocene criticism in terms of a precursive concern about the hubris of humankind growing out of proportion to a fragile planetary ecology.

Works Cited

  1. Alaimo, Stacey. “Composing Blue Ecologies: Science, Aesthetics, and Animal Studies in the Abyss.” Paper presented at “Changing Nature: Migrations, Energies, Limits,” the Tenth Biennial Conference of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, May 28–June 1, 2013.Google Scholar
  2. Arendt, Hannah. [Untitled]. “A Symposium on Space: Has Man’s Conquest of Space Increased or Diminished His Stature?” In The Great Ideas Today, 34–47. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1963.Google Scholar
  3. ———. The Human Condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958.Google Scholar
  4. Arrighi, Giovanni. Adam Smith in Beijing: Lineages of the Twenty-First Century. New York: Verso, 2007.Google Scholar
  5. ———. The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power, and the Origins of Our Times. New York: Verso, 1994.Google Scholar
  6. Asimov, Isaac. Fantastic Voyage. New York: Bantam, 1966.Google Scholar
  7. Barthes, Roland. Mythologies. 1957. Translated by Richard Howard and Annette Lavers. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012.Google Scholar
  8. Boulding, Kenneth. “The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth.” In Environmental Quality in a Growing Economy, edited by H. Jarrett. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1966.Google Scholar
  9. Chakrabarty, Dipesh. “Afterword.” South Atlantic Quarterly 116, no. 1 (2017): 163–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. ———. “The Climate of History: Four Theses.” Critical Inquiry 35 (2009): 197–222.Google Scholar
  11. ———. “Postcolonial Studies and the Challenge of Climate Change.” New Literary History 43, no. 1 (2012): 1–18.Google Scholar
  12. Clarke, Michael Tavel. These Days of Large Things: The Culture of Size in America, 1865–1930. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007.Google Scholar
  13. DeLoughrey, Elizabeth. “Satellite Planetarity and the Ends of the Earth.” Public Culture 26, no. 2 (2014): 257–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Desrochers, Pierre, and Christine Hoffbauer. “The Post War Intellectual Roots of the Population Bomb: Fairfield Osborn’s ‘Our Plundered Planet’ and William Vogt’s ‘Road to Survival’ in Retrospect.” The Electronic Journal of Sustainable Development 1, no. 3 (2009): 37–61.Google Scholar
  15. Dimock, Wai Chee. “Low Epic.” Critical Inquiry 39 (2013): 614–631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ehrlich, Paul. The Population Bomb. San Francisco: Sierra Club, 1968.Google Scholar
  17. Fantastic Voyage. Directed by Richard Fleischer. USA: Twentieth Century Fox, 1966.Google Scholar
  18. Franzino, Jean. “‘The Biggest Little Marriage on Record’: Union and Disunion in Tom Thumb’s America.” American Quarterly 67, no. 1 (2015): 189–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Freedgood, Elaine, and Cannon Schmitt. “Introduction: Denotatively, Technically, Literally.” Representations 125, no. 1 (2014): 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Freeman, Christopher. “Malthus with a Computer.” In Models of Doom: A Critique of the Limits to Growth, edited by H. S. D. Cole et al., 5–13. New York: Universe Books, 1973.Google Scholar
  21. Freud, Sigmund. Civilization and Its Discontents. 1930. Translated by James Strachey. New York: Norton, 1989.Google Scholar
  22. Fuller, Buckminster. Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1968.Google Scholar
  23. Glasberg, Elena. Antarctica as Cultural Critique: The Gendered Politics of Scientific Exploration and Climate Change. London: Palgrave, 2012.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Greif, Mark. The Age of the Crisis of Man: Thought and Fiction in America, 1933–1973. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Haraway, Donna. “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin.” Environmental Humanities 6 (2015): 159–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Harman, Graham. “Entanglement and Relation: A Response to Bruno Latour and Ian Hodder.” New Literary History 45, no. 1 (2014): 37–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Harrison, Harry. Make Room! Make Room! New York: Double Day, 1966.Google Scholar
  28. Hayot, Eric. “Near Stars: Analytic Scale and the Literary Object.” Paper presented at “Theorizing,” University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 26, 2014.Google Scholar
  29. Heise, Ursula. Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hendershot, Cyndy. “Darwin and the Atom: Evolution/Devolution Fantasies in ‘The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms,’ ‘Them!’, and ‘The Incredible Shrinking Man.’” Science Fiction Studies 25, no. 2 (1998): 319–335.Google Scholar
  31. Hodder, Ian. “The Entanglements of Humans and Things: A Long-Term View.” New Literary History 45, no. 1 (2014): 19–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Höhler, Sabine. “The Law of Growth: How Ecology Accounted for World Population in the 20th Century.” Distinktion: Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory 8, no. 1 (2007): 45–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hurley, Jessica. “Ground Zero at the City on a Hill: Apocalypse and the Politics of Form in the Nuclear Age.” Ph.D. diss. University of Pennsylvania, 2016.Google Scholar
  34. Hutchins, Robert, and Mortimer Adler, eds. The Great Ideas Today. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1963.Google Scholar
  35. Hutchins, Robert, and Mortimer Adler. “Introduction.” “A Symposium on Space: Has Man’s Conquest of Space Increased or Diminished His Stature?” In The Great Ideas Today, 1–3. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1963.Google Scholar
  36. Huxley, Aldous. [Untitled]. “A Symposium on Space: Has Man’s Conquest of Space Increased or Diminished His Stature?” In The Great Ideas Today, 20–33. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1963.Google Scholar
  37. The Incredible Shrinking Man. Directed by Jack Arnold. USA: Universal Pictures, 1957.Google Scholar
  38. The Incredible Shrinking Woman. Directed by Joel Schumacher. USA: Universal Pictures, 1981.Google Scholar
  39. Jameson, Fredric. The Prison-House of Language: A Critical Account of Structuralism and Russian Formalism. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972.Google Scholar
  40. Jancovich, Mark. Rational Fears: American Horror in the 1950s. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996.Google Scholar
  41. Kingsland, Sharon. Modeling Nature: Episodes in the History of Population Ecology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985.Google Scholar
  42. Latour, Bruno. “Agency at the Time of the Anthropocene.” New Literary History 45, no. 1 (2014): 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. ———. An Inquiry into Modes of Existence. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013.Google Scholar
  44. ———. “Why Has Critique Run Out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern.” Critical Inquiry 30 (2004): 225–248.Google Scholar
  45. Lewis, C. S. Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories. San Diego: Harcourt, 2002.Google Scholar
  46. Love, Heather. “The Temptations: Donna Haraway’s Feminist Empiricism and the Problem of Critique.” In Critique and Postcritique, edited by Elizabeth Anker and Rita Felski, 50–72. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Matheson, Richard. “The Fantastic Little Girl.” In Unrealized Dreams, 19–69. Colorado Springs: Gauntlet Press, 2005.Google Scholar
  48. ———. The Shrinking Man. New York: Tor, 1994.Google Scholar
  49. McCarthy, Anna. “From the Ordinary to the Concrete: Cultural Studies and the Politics of Scale.” In Questions of Method in Cultural Studies, edited by Mimi White and James Schwoch, 21–53. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2006.Google Scholar
  50. McGurl, Mark. “‘Neither Indeed Could I Forebear Smiling at My Self’: A Reply to Wai Chee Dimock.” Critical Inquiry 39 (2013): 632–638.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. ———. “Ordinary Doom: Literary Studies and the Wasteland of the Present.” New Literary History 41 (2010): 329–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. ———. “The Posthuman Comedy.” Critical Inquiry 38 (2012): 533–553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Meadows, Donella, et al. The Limits to Growth. New York: Universe Books, 1972.Google Scholar
  54. Modleski, Tania. Feminism without Women: Culture and Criticism in a “Postfeminist” Age. New York: Routledge, 1991.Google Scholar
  55. Moore, Hugh. “The Population Bomb.” New York: The Hugh Moore Fund, 1954.Google Scholar
  56. Osborn, Fairfield. The Limits of the Earth. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1953.Google Scholar
  57. ———. Our Plundered Planet. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1948.Google Scholar
  58. Pulliom, H. Ronald, and Nick M. Haddad. “Human Population Growth and the Carrying Capacity Concept.” Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 75, no. 3 (1994): 141–157.Google Scholar
  59. Rockström, Johan, et al. “A Safe Operating Space for Humanity.” Nature 461 (2009): 472–475.Google Scholar
  60. Sayre, Nathan F. “The Genesis, History, and Limits of Carrying Capacity.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 98, no. 1 (2008): 120–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Shapiro, Jerome. “Atomic Bomb Cinema: Illness, Suffering, and the Apocalyptic Narrative.” Literature and Medicine 17, no. 1 (1998): 126–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Slusser, George. “Pocket Apocalypse: American Survivalist Fictions from Walden to The Incredible Shrinking Man.” In Imagining Apocalypse, edited by David Seed, 118–135. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Sontag, Susan. “The Imagination of Disaster.” In Against Interpretation, 209–225. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1966.Google Scholar
  64. Soylent Green. Directed by Richard Fleischer. USA: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1973.Google Scholar
  65. Stevenson, Adlai. “Strengthening the International Development Institutions.” Speech before the United Nations Economic and Social Council Geneva, Switzerland, July 9, 1965.Google Scholar
  66. Stewart, Susan. On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection. Durham: Duke University Press, 1993.Google Scholar
  67. Tarratt, Margaret. “Monsters from the Id.” In Film Genre Reader, edited by Barry Keith Grant, 382–401. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986.Google Scholar
  68. Valentine, David. “Exit Strategy: Profit, Cosmology, and the Future of Humans in Space.” Anthropological Quarterly 85, no. 4 (2012): 1045–1067.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Vogt, William. Road to Survival. New York: William Sloane Associates, 1948.Google Scholar
  70. Ward, Barbara. Spaceship Earth. New York: Columbia University Press, 1966.Google Scholar
  71. Wark, McKenzie. Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene. New York: Verso, 2015.Google Scholar
  72. Wells, Paul. “The Invisible Man: Shrinking Masculinity in the 1950s Science Fiction B-Movie.” In You Tarzan: Masculinity, Movies and Men, edited by Pat Kirkham and Janet Thumin, 181–199. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993.Google Scholar
  73. Woods, Derek. “Scale Critique for the Anthropocene.” Minnesota Review 83 (2014): 133–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Zalasiewicz, Jan, et al. “When Did the Anthropocene Begin? A Mid-Twentieth Century Boundary Level Is Stratigraphically Optimal.” Quaternary International 38, no. 5 (2015): 196–203.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joan Lubin
    • 1
  1. 1.University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

Personalised recommendations