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Nicholas Lawrence, "Everything Changes": Brecht, Benjamin, Adorno"
Wednesday 25 January, 5pm, FAB 3.30

A seminar hosted by the Warwick Workshop for Interdisciplinary German Studies.


This paper looks at the question of historical last chances through the prism of a 1944 poem by Bertolt Brecht, “Alles wandelt sich [Everything changes],” refracted through related work by two contemporaries, Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno, and projected into an afterlife conditioned by altered senses of crisis and catastrophe. Reviewing the theory of historical contingency and opportunity developed by Benjamin, and the method of lyric reading proposed by Adorno, the paper aims to revise the latter’s understanding of a social poetics in which the poem serves as a ‘sundial telling the time of history.’ Instead, it outlines what might be called lyric theory for a warming world, in which, paraphrasing Andreas Malm, we can never read in the heat of the moment, only in the heat of an ongoing past.

All welcome!

For any questions please contact Antonia Hofstätter (
or Christine Achinger (

Antonia Hoffstätter, 'Falling Stars, Dying Planets, and the Limits of Natural Beauty: Reflections on Adorno’s Aesthetics in the Age of the Anthropocene'
Tuesday 5 December, 5:30-7pm, A0.23 (CRPLA seminar)


Adorno’s aesthetics are currently undergoing a renaissance. The reason, it seems, lies not in their potential contribution to the analyses of contemporary artworks, but in Adorno’s unorthodox rethinking of the notion of natural beauty. In their resemblance to natural beauty, ‘successful’ artworks, Adorno claims, promise the end of the domination of nature. In thus providing an intellectual resource for conceptualizing non-instrumental modes of comportment toward the natural world, the appeal of ‘natural beauty’ to contemporary scholarship is hardly surprising. Taking my cue from Adorno’s historically situated approach, however, I would like to problematize this current intellectual trend. In my paper, I will first lend substance to Adorno’s notion of natural beauty by unpacking his reading of a passage in Beethoven’s piano sonata in D minor, Op.31 No. 2, in which a falling star seems to appear on the firmament. I will then move to Adorno’s reflections on the closing bars of Mahler’s Lied von der Erde, which, I contend, register an inversion of the Beethovenian perspective. My tracing of these two distinct aesthetic and metaphysical constellations aims not only at elucidating the complex concept of natural beauty but, crucially, at drawing out the historically contingent and shifting aesthetic experiences which they presuppose. Ultimately, I will raise the question whether the aesthetic experiences that informed Adorno’s approach to art and aesthetics – and which are indebted to the experience of beauty in nature – still resonate with us today.

Mead Gallery Roundtable on Radical Landscapes
Tuesday 22 November, 5:30-7pm, A0.23

Roundtable discussion of the Radical Landscapes exhibition at the Mead Gallery (open from 7 October to 18 December ).
Commentators: David Bather Woods, Diarmuid Costello, Chris Earley, Nadine Elzein, Nick Lawrence, Danielle Stewart. Chaired by Eileen John. Co-sponsored by the Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature and the Arts.

Cole Swensen, “On Eco-Ekphrasis”
Tuesday 22 November, 4-5pm, FAB 5.50

Poet Cole Swensen will lead a discussion (with slides) on artwork that addresses ecological issues in obvious as well as oblique ways, including work by artists who have engaged the landscape genre in a fluid manner, so as to put the landscape back into motion, and in doing so, who have found alternatives to some of the presumptions and practices of landscape art common to Euro-centric contexts. Swensen also will address how her own work as a poet engages landscape. The event is free and open to the public.

Suggested reading:
Introduction & essay, "An Argument Against Timeless Art" and "Christo & Jeanne-Claude: The Running Fence," from Art in Time
Excerpts from Landscapes on a Train 

Cole Swensen is the author of 17 books of poetry, most recently On Walking On (Nightboat, 2017), a collection of hybrid poem-essays, Art in Time (Nightboat, 2021), and a collection of critical essays, Noise That Stays Noise (U. of Michigan, 2011). Much of her work is related to the visual arts and often addresses landscape and land-use concerns. Her work has been awarded the Iowa Poetry Prize, the S.F. State Poetry Center Book Award, and the National Poetry Series, and has been a finalist twice for the L.A. Times Book Award and once for the National Book Award. A former Guggenheim Fellow, she co-edited the Norton anthology American Hybrid and is the founding editor of La Presse. She has translated over twenty books of French poetry, creative non-fiction, and art criticism, including Jean Frémon's Island of the Dead, which won the 2004 PEN USA Award in Translation. She divides her time between Paris and Providence R.I., where she teaches at Brown University.

For further information on the event, contact Jonathan Skinner:


Alterstories from the Soil: Exploring Ecological Un/Belongings: A Symposium
15 June 2022, 9.30am-6.30pm, Oculus 1.06, University of Warwick

Soils have stories to tell about pasts, presents and futures in the making. The environmental crisis affecting soils today has led to a wave of appreciation of their materiality as living worlds and to calls to rethink human-soil relations as an ecological community of care. Yet soils also entail a material memory of troubled associations with un/belonging. Stories about human-soil attachments can evoke deep care for places, but also historical and current exploitation, exclusion, and dispossession from land and community. Encouraging re-imaginations of human-soil relations as ecological belongings, this gathering seeks to bring together the cares of un/belonging and ecological thinking through alterstories that may nurture alternative conceptions of more than human justice.

Conference webpage:

Confirmed speakers: Åsa SonjasdotterLink opens in a new windowLink opens in a new window, Patricia NoxoloLink opens in a new windowLink opens in a new window, Nirmal Puwar, Ros GrayLink opens in a new windowLink opens in a new window, RL MartensLink opens in a new windowLink opens in a new window, Adele Reed,Link opens in a new windowLink opens in a new window Greg MuldoonLink opens in a new windowLink opens in a new window, Lesley Green,Link opens in a new windowLink opens in a new windowand Lucy MichaelsLink opens in a new windowLink opens in a new window.

This one-day symposium concludes with a public talk by Malcom FerdinandLink opens in a new windowLink opens in a new window, author of Decolonial Ecology: Thinking from the Caribbean World (Polity, 2022)Link opens in a new windowLink opens in a new window followed by a response by Shela Sheikh.Link opens in a new windowLink opens in a new window

(Organised by Maria Puig de la BellacasaLink opens in a new windowLink opens in a new window and Giulia ChampionLink opens in a new windowLink opens in a new window as part of the project Ecological Belongings: transforming soil cultures with science, art and activism funded with an AHRC Leadership Fellowship, hosted by the Centre for Interdisciplinary MethodologiesLink opens in a new window atLink opens in a new window at the University of Warwick, and organised in collaboration with the Warwick Environmental Humanities Network and the Warwick Environmental Systems Interdisciplinary Centre)Link opens in a new window)Link opens in a new window

Ecological Accounts: A Roundtable
31 May 2022, 4:00pm, Warwick Business School, room 0.301 and online
Nicholas Lawrence and Jonathan Skinner (English & Comparative Literary Studies), with Hendrick Vollmer (WBS):

The quest for ‘ecological accounts’ has made questionable the modern opposition of nature and society, as well as inherited distinctions between specialised tribes of bookkeepers across the sciences, humanities, and professions. The roundtable will offer an opportunity to explore the variety of ecological accounts and accountings that are currently emerging from this quest, and what might still unite them.
(Organised as part of a WBS research day on Ecological Accounting by Hendrick Vollmer)

Directions in the Energy Humanities: Research Workshop
28 April 2022, 2-6pm, FAB0.23 and FAB2.32
2-2:15pm: Graeme Macdonald, ‘Introduction: Outline of the Field’
2:15-3pm: Michael Niblett, ‘Energy and Caribbean Studies’
Charlotte Spear, ‘The Aesthetics of Human Rights in Central and Western African Energy Fictions’
Harry Pitt Scott, ‘Energy and Finance in Transition’
3-3:15pm: Coffee
3:15-4pm: Caitlin Vandertop, ‘Unearthing Phosphate in the Pacific Pastoral’
Harry Warwick, ‘Notes Towards a Value Theory of Infrastructure’
Natasha Bondre, ‘Reading Emperor Oil in the Expanded Caribbean: Petroleum, Ecology and Caribbean Literature in the 20th and 21st Centuries’
4:05-4:50pm: Thomas Waller, ‘The Energy Unconscious: Jameson, Braudel, and Geological Time’
Michael Gardiner, ‘Notes on the Anglosphere and the Anthropocene’
Nick Lawrence, ‘Work and Energy in the Anthropocene’
5-6pm: Roundtable discussion
6pm: Poetry reading and discussion with Jonathan Skinner, ‘“Auger,” or Deepwater Horizon 12 Years On’
(Organisers: Graeme Macdonald and Harry Pitt Scott)

Space Junk: Research Networking Lunch
23 March 2022, 11am-2pm, Scarman Space 43, University of Warwick
11.00-11.30: Coffee (Lounge area Scarman)
11.30-13.00: Presentations and Q and A Discussion (Space 43 Scarman)
11:30-11:40: Welcome/Introduction by Catherine Constable
11:40-11:55: Presentation by Don Pollacco, + Q&A
11:55-12:10: Presentation by Nerea Cavillo-Gonzales, + Q&A [online]
12:10-12:25: Presentation by Nick Lawrence, + Q&A
12:30-13:00: Breakout Discussions
13.00-14.00: Lunch (Main Dining Room Scarman)

(Organised by Catherine Constable, Habitability Global Research Priority Lead)

Approaches to Eco-Translation
25 November 2021, 5-7pm (in person and via livestream)
WBS Teaching Centre, M2

A mini-symposium/roundtable and discussion with writers Jennifer Scappetone, Daniel Eltringham, and Zoë Skoulding (Jonathan Skinner, convenor)

Jennifer Scappettone, “What the Canary Said: From Opacity to Shimmer in Argots of the Copper Lyre”

Jennifer ScappettoneLink opens in a new window’s current cross-genre book project tracks the expansive, yet largely obscured networks of mining, refinement, and salvage undergirding copper extraction economies across global resource networks and commodity frontiers to develop the concept of a critical geopoetics, arguing for the value of routing research into geology, labor history, infrastructure studies, and industrial heritage through poetic composition as a means of rendering polyphonic the origins and far-reaching environmental consequences of the global network. Through the image of the “copper lyre”—an imagined yoking of telecommunicative infrastructure to forge a poetically resonant instrument—it explores the ability of lyrical forms to sound the subdued externalities of the so-called global village by making visible, and literally by “airing,” material archaeologies eclipsed by the etherealized image of the cloud. Scappettone will close by presenting strains of her recent poetry and installation work that explore what’s missing from Anglocentric frameworks of environmental humanities and activism: both possibilities for cross-cultural solidarity enabled by wide-ranging translation practices among workers of the world and the wisdom roused by opening to languages outside one’s province and species of mastery.”

Daniel Eltringham, “Creaturely Insurgence: Liberation Ecopoetics in Translation”

Daniel EltringhamLink opens in a new window: What might be the tentative contours of a translingual liberation or “guerrilla” ecopoetics? I suggest tracking the movements of such militant ecologies in translation networks that bridge Latin American decolonial struggle and Anglophone small-press poetries, spreading solidarity that extends to the more-than-human lifeworlds of rural guerrilla insurgency. I will discuss creaturely insurgence in poems by three guerrilla poets, none of whom survived the 1960s: Che Guevara’s vengeful green caiman as an emblem of more-than-human liberation; Javier Heraud’s buzzing fly as a vector of resistance to counter-insurgency's targeting of ecological reproduction; and Rita Valdivia’s poetry of militant kin-making, which expands the creaturely beyond species-distinctions. In “eco-translation” (Cronin 2016), the belated, uneven movements these texts make from material environments of struggle to textual spaces responsive to the theoretical concerns of ecopoetics provide a medium for thinking biosemiotic entanglements in trans-cultural and -historical ways. But to propose a “translational” guerrilla ecopoetics confronts Anglophone environmental traditions with the intertwined emergencies of decolonial struggle and the unevenly distributed consequences of contemporary earth-systems breakdown, suggesting juster interweavings of language and world.

Zoe Skoulding, “Birds of North America: Birdsong and the Borders of Language”

Zoë SkouldingLink opens in a new window: Birdsong, although often drowned out by human activity, is a widespread aural experience of other species as well as a gauge of ecological change. With reference to ideas about translation and relation drawn from Walter Benjamin and Édouard Glissant, as well as Karen Barad’s comments on how the world makes itself 'differentially intelligible', this talk will attend to the insistent presence of birds in contemporary US poetry, exploring its relationship to languages and borders in colonial and neocolonial contexts. Don Mee Choi’s ‘Sky Translation’ in DMZ Colony juxtaposes the initially baffling noise of American snow geese with the heavily militarized frontier between North and South Korea, using it to explore the border between language, sound and image. While Nathaniel Mackey’s ‘Song of the Andoumboulou: 285’ riffs off the medieval Persian poet Farīd al-Dīn Aṭṭār to imagine ‘the birds we were or the birds we’d be’ as a potential future for humans rooted in ancient song, Layli Long Soldier’s references to dead or absent birds, from her Oglala Lakota perspective, mark points of political resistance. Drawing attention both to the multiplicity of human languages and to non-semantic sound, birds and birdsong bring to the poem a call to new forms of ecological awareness.

(Co-sponsored by the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies, the Institute of Advanced StudyLink opens in a new window, and the Environmental Humanities Network)Link opens in a new window


“Drill and Drift: The Poetics of Metabolic Rift”
Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 5-6:30pm (Zoom link tba)
Margaret Ronda (University of California, Davis)
This talk considers the ways in which the temporalities of the nonhuman environment and the temporal forms of capitalism find expression in a series of poetic works by contemporary North American poets. Approaching works by Hoa Nguyen, Rita Wong, Cecily Nicholson, and dg nanouk okpik, I argue that these writings illuminate the socioecological contradictions of capitalist production as they emerge in the durations and intensifications of historical and everyday time. In their immanent formal attention to the differential motions of socioecological time, these works illuminate capitalism’s ever-more-intensive imbrications in biospheric processes and embodied forms: what Marx called metabolic rift, unfolding at various scales and speeds.
Margaret RondaLink opens in a new window is an Associate Professor of English at the University of California-Davis, where she teaches American poetry and environmental humanities. She is the author of Remainders: American Poetry at Nature's End (Stanford University Press, Post*45 Series, 2018) and two books of poetry.

EHN Roundtable: The Impact of Covid on Environmental Humanities Research
Friday, 18 December 2020, 2-4pm (MS Teams)
This roundtable offers EHN researchers based at Warwick the opportunity to discuss the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on their research, both practical and conceptual.


Seminar series: “Excavating the Anthropocene”

A series of research seminars organised during the academic year 2019-2020 on the theme of “Excavating the Anthropocene.” Our program is supported through an IAS Award with the aim of establishing Environmental Humanities as a new field of cross-disciplinary research at Warwick.

Our 2019-20 research series engages participants from several fields in the arts, humanities and related disciplines in order 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 conflict, cultural contestation and cross-species entanglements. 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 the ecological emergency can be attributed to resistance from vested interests, but also 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) takes up the task of representing Anthropocenic phenomena across a range of visual media, while “Sounding the Anthropocene” (Term 2) focuses particularly on the contribution of sound and performance to this epoch's sensory registration. A further program on “Conceptualising the Anthropocene” scheduled for Term 3 was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

These 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).

Seminar Organisers:

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 (Co-organised with the CRPLA)

Respondents: Olga Smith (IAS/Art History), Jonathan Skinner (ECLS), Diarmuid Costello (Philosophy)

  • 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): (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
    • Abstract:

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.

  • Work-in-Progress Roundtable: “Visualising the Anthropocene”
    Thursday, 5 December, 12.00-2pm, OC0.04
    This work-in-progress lunch hour roundtable is an opportunity for EHN members to share their current research.
Term 2: Sounding the Anthropocene:

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.

    • Bios:

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, S0.13Link opens in a new window

    • Abstract:

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.

    • Bio:

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.

  • Flows and Floods: Changing Environments and CulturesLink opens in a new window”: 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”


    • Bio:

    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 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” CANCELLED IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE INDUSTRIAL ACTION

      Wednesday 4 March, 12-2pm, R0.14Link opens in a new window

      • Bios:

    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.

    For conferences with open calls for papers, take a look at the Research and Impact Opportunities page.

    Other Events

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    Previous Events

    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.