Quanta of unrest …

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Why, when there’s more than enough food in the UK, were a million families forced to rely on food banks in 2014? Why, as agri-tech brings astonishing new capabilities online, from synthetic food and cisgenics, to agri-robots, could an all-party report conclude that “hunger now stalks the UK”? And why, in an age of technological convergence, are we as far from an equitable distribution of bio-resources than ever before? In a talk I’ll be giving on 29 December at the 31C3 congress in Hamburg, I’ll be exploring how art and literature can help us gain a deeper understanding of the mechanisms underlying this ethical and material dissonance.

My talk draws on the new book Jayne Archer, Howard “Sid” Thomas and I published earlier this month, Food and the Literary Imagination.

The book collects together much of the research into Keats and Shakespeare that garnered the attention of the world’s press in 2012 and 2014, along with new chapters on Chaucer and George Eliot. We also take a long look at the Field in Time, and end with some observations on future trends.