Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Weather Symposium

13 January 2023, 9:30 am–6:00 pm

View of a typhoon from outer space. an image talen by NASA. The typhoon has just hit land - in the lower right-hand part of the picture  you an see ocean, in the upper left-hand part a desert landscape.

This workshop gathers notable scholars working in and on various periods, to share work on different aspects of the weather and literature, examining it in various lights: historical, formal, generic, political, cultural, scientific. The event is part of Weather Fictions / Météorologies du Roman, two workshops that bring together scholars of literature, culture, and art, across historical periods, to discuss these and other issues.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

UCL staff | UCL students






Julia Jordan


IAS Common Ground
Ground floor, South Wing, Wilkins Building
United Kingdom

The weather - that is, our everyday, mundane experience of the climate - has always proved recalcitrant to literary representation. Another way of saying this, with Kamau Brathwaite, is ‘the hurricane does not roar in pentameter’. How to fit formlessness into form? We might take a cue from Alice Oswald and Paul Keegan, and their anthology Gigantic Cinema: as they write in their introduction, ‘weather has no plot. It is all mutability and vicissitude.’ This introduces a question on which we might productively dwell: is the weather best thought of as a particular type of event - the lightning strike, the hurricane - which comes to us with all the bafflement or grace of chance, or is it always ongoing backdrop and flux, the continual ‘interminable experiment’, as Virginia Woolf puts it? 

We ask the participants of the two workshops planned at UCL (2023) and University of Picardie-Jules Verne (2024) to think through the relation between literature and weather. The symposium, the first of two (the second to be held in France in 2024), will be held under the auspices of the Department of English Language and Literature, the research group ‘Writers of the Anthropocene’ and will be part of the Institute of Advanced Studies Spring programme. Participants in the workshop include Lara Choksey (UCL), Anne Duprat (Picardie), Linda Freedman (UCL), Henry Ivry (University of Glasgow), Julia Jordan (UCL), Eric Langley (UCL), William Andrews (UCL), James Reath (UCL), Aaron Rosenberg (King's College London), Barry Shiels (Durham University), and Tess Somervell (Oxford University). There will be an evening 'annotated reading' by the poet and writer Harriet Tarlo. To register for the evening event, please click here.

Harriet Tarlo is a poet, critic, and Professor of Ecopoetry and Poetics at Sheffield Hallam University, working in experimental and open forms on the page and in art spaces. She is interested in place, landscape and environment, modernist and avant-garde poetry, and gender. She has published eight poetry books, four artists’ books with Judith Tucker, and edited a well-received anthology, The Ground Aslant: Radical Landscape Poetry Anthology (Shearsman 2011).  



9.30 am Welcome and Opening Remarks

Anne Duprat (Université de Picardie) ‘The plot thickens’: Clouds and the novel
Eric Langley (UCL): ‘What is the cause of thunder’: Early Modern Aetiologies of Weather 
Pen Woods (Queen Mary University): Clouds and the Accidental in the Seventeenth-Century Playhouse

Tess Somervell (Oxford University): The Storm-Cloud of the Eighteenth Century 
Linda Freedman (UCL): Distempered Realism in Ruskin’s Storm-Cloud 


Aaron Rosenberg (King’s College London): Against Barometric Realism 
James Reath (UCL) ‘with silver iodide we could carve the clouds’: Cloud-Seeding & the Cultural Logic of Chemical Entanglement
Barry Shiels (Durham University): Weather Writing: Maps, Materialism and Modern Poetics  


Julia Jordan (UCL): Windthrow: The Great Storm and W.G. Sebald’s Arboreal Pastoral 
William Andrews (UCL): Snowflakes and a Southerly Wind: On Temperamental Meaning

Lara Choksey (UCL): Epigenetic shocks: Weather systems in Postgenomic Poetics
Henry Ivry (University of Glasgow): Stormy Atmospherics: Dubbing Climates of Antiblackness 

5pm Harriet Tarlo ‘weird forms/bright hours from a wired warming world’ (an annotated reading)

The event is part of the initiative UCL Anthropocene and is a collaboration of the Department of English Language and Literature, the Institute of Advanced Studies, UCL Anthropocene’s ‘Writers of the Anthropocene’, the Université de Picardie-Jules Verne, the Centre d’Etudes des Relations et Contacts Linguistiques et Littéraires, Equipe ‘Roman et Romanesque’/ Institut Universitaire de France.

Image by Photo by NOAA.