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Critical Environments

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ILLUSTRATION BY SÉBASTIEN THIBAULT

Critical Environments (CE) is a cross-disciplinary research and teaching collective based in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick and associated with the EHN (Environmental Humanities Network). The collective presently groups work done at the interface of environmental studies, critical theory, literary studies, creative writing and the visual and sound arts. A working premise of CE is that while “the environment” as a shared historical horizon, especially when pressured by the global crisis of climate breakdown, becomes ever more critical to what we do as scholars, teachers, students, writers, and artists, understandings of this horizon and its associated concepts remain only partially tested by the kinds of innovative theory and practice that have pushed other historical frames through several “waves” of critique.

Critical Inquiry: As the nth wave of ecocriticism breaks, we are moved to rethink the mesh of the social, material, and political-economic histories constituting not “the environment” but environments (plural), active at the blind spots of intersecting disciplinary and interpretive frameworks. Awareness of the “critical condition” of our environments, including the atmospheric commons, calls not for a simple retrenchment of critical inquiry around familiar slogans but for a more critical articulation of our environments – the contexts of our reading, thinking, writing and making – in a sustained edge practice, where contact at disciplinary boundaries may bring discomfort but also greater reflexivity.

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CE projects

Currently, CE is engaged in the development of an Environmental Humanities Network (EHN) across the University of Warwick, with an ongoing seminar series this year (2019-20) focused on "Excavating the Anthropocene." Please see the EHN (link under CE Projects) for links to the current program, with information on events, funding opportunities, participating departments and programs, and network members.