Dr Theo Savvas gave our second online CHHS research seminar on the 6th May.
Title: ‘Hitherto we’ve had a certain lack of meat here’1: Representations of Vegetarianism in Utopian Literature
Savvas argued that abstaining from the consumption of animal flesh—‘Pythagoreanism’ before 1838, ‘Vegetarianism’ thereafter—has a long and varied literary history. One aspect of this history that has remained fairly consistent is the frequent representation of such abstention in imaginings of ideal worlds: Pythagoras looked back to the vegetable-eating of the Golden Age; the Utopian novel looks forward to a time when the slaughter-house is no more. In this talk, Savvas provided an overview of these representations, before focusing on some of the ‘scientific romances’ of H.G. Wells, who had an ambivalent response to the burgeoning vegetarianism of fin-de-siècle London. In these works, he suggested, vegetarianism figures as a useful way of thinking about the demarcation between the human and the animal