Lectures and Conferences

Program in Comparative Literature Conference

Cross-Cultural Ecocriticism(s): Waves and Undertows

 Keynote speakers:  Rob Nixon, U of Wisconsin; Catriona Sandilands, York U; Timothy Morton, UC-Davis; Ursula Heise, Stanford U.
February 25, 2011 - 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Open to the public.

Do current environmental crises, politics, and studies compel literary and cultural studies to revisit their usual perspectives on the study of nature? Ecocriticism names the emergence of interdisciplinary approaches to humans’ interactions with natural environments and non-human species in literature and other media. This conference will focus on leading research in ecocriticism addressing national, ethnic, class, gender, and disciplinary boundaries still permeating this field.

                How do we talk about the representation of human/non-human identities and relationships, in literature, film, and other media? Although the relationship of nature to society or the individual has been always present in literatures across the world, and criticism has always indeed focused on it, do we need now a critical vocabulary that engages with new developments in fields such as environmental history, environmental anthropology, political ecology, environmental philosophy, environmental psychology, cognitive sciences, neurobiology, evolutionary/adaptationist theories, etc.? Have past and current world literatures addressed environmental crises or conflicts, and even thought positions that can illuminate our debates on ecology, environmentalism and post-humanism? Can we re-think the relationship between “texts” and the social/natural networks in which they are inserted?

                Only since the early 1990s, mainstream literary and cultural studies have engaged with these questions. However, originally developed within the American and English academies, ecocriticism has been accused of exhibiting a pronounced tendency towards solipsism and at times, ethnocentrism, in its primary focus on English and American national literary traditions and ecologies.
The Conference “Cross-Cultural Ecocriticism(s): Waves and Undertows” will reflect on the gains and shortcomings of the so-called “third wave ecocriticism,” or the current rise of approaches attempting to go over pervasive national, ethnic, class, gender, and disciplinary constraints. Four distinguished scholars who in recent times have opened or advanced new directions in these areas have agreed to join us for the conference and shared their research related to the rise of postcolonial ecocriticism, the impact of new varieties of ecofeminisms and popular environmentalisms; the contributions and challenges posed by another emergent field: critical animal studies; and the rethinking of environmental aesthetics and ecological thought in/for the Humanities.

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