As you know, I’ve been working on a piece on science fiction, utopia, and environmental thought. In a previous post, I wrote about a conference paper based on this research. Now, I’m proud to announce that I’m organizing a session for IFER on this topic, featuring two literature scholars whose work can be situated within the larger discipline of “ecocriticism.”My colleagues Yassir Eddebbar and Kaitlyn Lowder made this wonderful flyer for the event:

Poetry Anthropocene Ocean

Now what is “ecocriticism”? With this term, literature scholars usually refer to a specific type of research that studies how literature and literary thinking represents the natural environment. The vagueness of my definition here already indicates that this term comprehends a great variety of approaches, ranging from the studies that show how nature in Shakespeare represents a fearful entity to analyses of the way scientists represents climate disaster (this is Susanna Lidstrom‘s research. Susanna recently gave a talk with our colleagues of the Transdisciplinary Ecocriticism group here at UCSD). The significance of such research should be obvious: if, despite long-standing warnings by eminent scientists, humanity still persists in destroying its natural environment, the problem needs to be treated in a much broader context. Ecocriticism provides that context, allowing us to think through problems that science, awesome though it is, cannot treat within its proper framework. These problems range from how our very ways of thinking imply environmental destruction to the connection of ecological destruction with the economic system that is capitalism.

Tomorrow, two speakers will be presenting their work within ecocriticism. Kristin Bagdanov from UC Davis will be joining us to connect two seemingly distant concepts: poetry and the anthropocene (a name that implies that humanity’s destruction of the environment is so significant it merits its own geological period; the implication being that future generations will be able to see traces of our time in conserved in stones); and Mark Kelley (UCSD) will be considering how people at sea relate to their non-human environment, a significant topic particularly at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, where researchers set off for distant sea voyages all the time. So we’re looking forward to a fruitful discussion! Click here for the full flyer and a map: Poetry Anthropocene Ocean

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