Seminar Series, 2019-20:
“Excavating the Anthropocene”
A series of research seminars organised during the academic year 2019-2020 on the theme of “Excavating the Anthropocene.” Our programme is supported through an IAS Award with the aim of establishing Environmental Humanities as a new field of cross-disciplinary research at Warwick.
This research series engages participants from several fields in the arts, humanities and related disciplines to bring critical humanist perspectives to environmental research. The humanities, as a body of disciplines concerned with human culture, bring indispensable critical frameworks to an unfolding crisis born out of class, cultural and species interaction and conflict. In particular, the humanities can offer a crucial excavation of assumptions at work inside the Anthropocene, as it develops under a geo-historical and world-ecological rubric, and potentially as a program, for global environmental consciousness.
Denial of ecological urgency can be attributed to resistance from vested interests, as well as to challenges inherent to ecological communication, including a perceived difficulty in conceiving the scale required by “Anthropocene” thinking. To address these challenges, over the course of each term a series of seminars will treat a different aspect of “Excavating the Anthropocene”: “Visualising the Anthropocene” (Term 1), “Sounding the Anthropocene” (Term 2), and “Conceptualising the Anthropocene” (Term 3).
The seminars are supported through an IAS Award and with the co-sponsorship of CIM (Center for Interdisciplinary Methodologies), the CRPLA (the Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature and the Arts), The HRC (Humanities Research Centre) and Critical Environments (Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies).
- Olga Smith (IAS/History of Art)
- Jonathan Skinner (English and Comparative Literary Studies)
- Maria Puig de la Bellacasa (Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies)
- Nick Lawrence (English and Comparative Literary Studies)
- Giulia Champion (Hispanic Studies and English and Comparative Literary Studies)
Term 2: Sounding the Anthropocene:
- Naomi Waltham Smith (Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, University of Warwick), “Homofaunie: Non-Human Tonalities of Listening in Derrida and Cixous”
Tuesday 14 January 2019, 5:30-7pm, S0.11
Event co-organised with the CRPLA.
- Evelyn Araluen Corr and Jonathan Dunk (University of Sydney)
Wednesday 22 January, 5-7pm, S0.13
Evelyn Araluen - “Teleological Conflict in Indigenous Climate Poetics”:
The accelerated and disproportionate effects of human-induced climate change on Indigenous homelands and communities in the Oceanic region present Indigenous writers with a teleological conflict between the looming threat of environmental apocalypse, and the cultural and geographic forces of deep ancestral time and inheritance. Indigenous women speaking from this site are closing distance between theory and practice in the global climate justice struggle while emphasising custodial and matrilineal responsibilities alongside transindigenous relations of collaboration and solidarity. In charting these concerns and connections in the writing of saltwater Indigenous women of Oceania, including Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner, Ellen Van Neerven and Alexis Wright among others, this paper seeks to explore diverse forms of transferral, refusal, and continuity across fluid and adaptive modes of literariness.
Jonathan Dunk - “Pyrocumulus: Making our own Weather in Narrative”:
Paraphrasing Fredric Jameson, Mark Fisher wrote in Capitalist Realism (2009) that it’s become easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism – an observation recently literalized by the environmental catastrophes of climate change. This argument looks at the narratival failures and lacunae which characterize the coverage of anthropogenic weather events, including the currently raging fires in Australia. It further situates the radical inability to countenance the eschatological dimensions of climate change within the context of the theories of time, narrative and modernity articulated by Jameson, Agamben and Ricoeur.
Evelyn Araluen is a poet, educator and researcher working with Indigenous literatures at the University of Sydney. Her writing has been awarded by the Judith Wright Poetry Prize, the Nakata Brophy Young Indigenous Writers Prize, the inaugural Wheeler Centre Next Chapter Fellowship, and a Neilma Sidney Literary Travel grant. Her first collection Dropbear is to be released with BrowBooks this year. Born, raised and writing from Dharug country, she is of the Bundjalung nation.
Jonathan Dunk is the Kenneth Reed Scholar in Literature at the University of Sydney. His work is published in Textual Practice, Australian Literary Studies, The Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, and awarded the AD Hope prize and the Australia Council’s Dal Stivens award. He lives on Wangal Country.
Jonathan and Evelyn are the co-editors of Overland Literary Journal.
Marcus Boon (York University, Toronto), “Vibration-In-Itself: Sound, Humanism and the Anthropocene”
Wednesday 5 February, 5-7pm, S0.13
Is music, when made by humans, necessarily part of an anthropocene project? At first thought, it might seem that John Cage’s realigning of music with “the sounds themselves,” and minimal human intervention set the stage for a non-anthropocentric practice of music, albeit at the expense of much of what made music what it is. In this talk I will discuss the ideas and work of Catherine Christer Hennix and her concept of “ananthropic sound” – and the difficult topic of a vibrational ontology, and how one might think of vibration from the site of “being qua being.” I will ask what it might mean to think about “vibration-in-itself” – are there generalized models of periodicity, of oscillation between the non- and the not-non that apply across media, models and experiences? Drawing on recent work by Badiou, Agamben and Latour concerning ideas of a modal ontology, I will examine what our understanding of modality in music tells us about the broader issues here.
Marcus Boon is a writer and Professor of English at York University in Toronto. He is the author of The Road of Excess: A History of Writers on Drugs (Harvard UP, 2002), In Praise of Copying (Harvard, 2010 UP) and The Politics of Vibration (Duke UP, forthcoming) as well as co-author with Timothy Morton and Eric Cazdyn of Nothing: Three Inquiries in Buddhism (U. Chicago, 2015). He co-edited a collection of writings on Practice in the Visual Arts with Gabriel Levine (MIT/Whitechapel Documents of Contemporary Arts series, 2018) and is editing a new edition of William Burroughs and Brion Gysin's cut-up manual The Third Mind with Davis Schneiderman (U. Minnesota, forthcoming). He is currently working on a book entitled Practice: Aesthetics After Art. He writes about music for The Wire and collaborates in making immersive vibratory environments with Christie Pearson as Thewaves. www.marcusboon.com
- Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer (Rice University), running the EHN Reading group; for more details please see here.
Friday 21 February, time and place TBC
- “Flows and Floods: Changing Environments and Cultures”: An Interdisciplinary Conference organised by Nora Castle, Amul Gyawali and Harry Pitt Scott and funded by the Humanities Research Centre
Saturday 22 February, time and place TBC
- Lynn Turner, (Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, University of London), “End Note: The Cardio-Pedagogy of White God”
Wednesday 26 February, 5-7pm, OC0.02
Lynn Turner is the author of Poetics of Deconstruction: on the threshold of differences (Bloomsbury, 2020); co-editor of The Edinburgh Companion to Animal Studies (EUP, 2018); editor of The Animal Question in Deconstruction (EUP, 2013); co-author of Visual Cultures As… Recollection (Sternberg, 2013) and co-editor of a special issue of parallax called ‘bon appetit’ (2013). Her guerrilla gardening blog can be found at guerillere.blogspot.com She leads the MA in Contemporary Art Theory in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London.
- Elizabeth-Jane Burnett (Newman University) and John Kinsella (Curtin University, Western Australia), “Sounding the Anthropocene: Poetry Reading and Discussion”
Wednesday 4 March, 12-2pm, R0.14
Elizabeth-Jane Burnett is an author and academic. Publications include Swims, A Social Biography of Contemporary Innovative Poetry Communities: The Gift, the Wager and Poethics and The Grassling: A Geological Memoir. She is currently researching moss and wetlands on a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust project.
John Kinsella is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, and Professor of Literature and Environment, Curtin University, Western Australia. His most recent poetry volumes include Drowning in Wheat: Selected Poems (Picador, 2016), The Wound (Arc, 2018) and Insomnia (Picador, 2019). His critical books include Activist Poetics: Anarchy in the Avon Valley (Liverpool University Press, 2010; ed. Niall Lucy) and Polysituatedness (Manchester University Press, 2017) and Temporariness (with Russell West-Pavlov, Narr, 2018). He is a vegan anarchist pacifist of many years.
Term 1: Visualising the Anthropocene
Andrew Patrizio (History of Art, Edinburgh College of Art), “The Ecological Eye: Setting Agendas across Art History, Theory and Politics”
Tuesday 8 October 2019, 5-7:30pm, S0.11
Respondents: Olga Smith (IAS/Art History), Jonathan Skinner (ECLS), Diarmuid Costello (Philosophy). Event co-organised with the CRPLA.
- Ignacio Acosta (Artist)
Wednesday 30 Oct. 2019, 5-7pm, S2.81
Presentation of Ignacio Acosta’s work, followed by a reading group discussion of TJ Demos, "Between Rebel Creativity and Reification: For and Against Visual Activism", in Journal of Visual Culture (2016): https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1470412915619459 (please contact us if you are unable to access this article).
- Professor Jennifer Wenzel, “Postcards from the Future”
Weds, 20 November 2019, 5-7pm, OC1.01
This paper examines the genre of the postcard – a popular technology for the transmission of memory – in order to understand the spatiotemporal politics of Anthropocene imagining. I’m particularly interested in apocalyptic visions of environmental futurity that borrow images of contemporary Third World poverty and ecological degradation in order to posit them as the First World’s future. While Europe’s others were once seen as inhabiting a lesser past, now they’re seen as inhabiting its projected future inferior. The consequences of carbon accumulation in the future are imagined to look a lot like being on the wrong end of capital accumulation in the present, with little acknowledgement of the shared but uneven history that joins them. These are among the thought grooves of the status quo that are so difficult to escape, at least from within the inertia of the fossil-fueled “chain of ease.” Like so much else, the future will be unevenly distributed.
Tiago de Luca (Film and Television Studies, University of Warwick), " Beyond "Blue Planet": The Multi-Perspectival Vision of Nikolaus Geyrhalter's Earth (2019)"— CANCELLED
Wednesday 27 November, 5-7pm, S2.81
- Lunch Roundtable: Work in Progress, “Visualising the Anthropocene”
Thursday, 5 December, 12.00-2pm, OC0.04
This work-in-progress lunch roundtable is an opportunity for EHN members to share their current research.
For conferences with open calls for papers, take a look at the Research and Impact Opportunities page.
Contact us to have your event included on this page.
Environmental Humanities Research Salon – 20 May 2019, 12:30-3pm, IAS Seminar Room
This event brought together interdisciplinary academics working in the Environmental Humanities at Warwick to discuss the coordinated development of research in the field, and led to the creation of this network.