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Environmental Humanities Conference at UW

2013 October 7
by Shared by Steve Rust

If you happen to be in the Pacific Northwest in a few weeks you may want to check out the Environmental Humanities Conference at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The Future of the Environmental Humanities: Research, Pedagogies, Institutions, and Publics
This multi-day conference (Oct. 31-Nov. 3, 2013) seeks to spark the emergence of a regional network of environmental humanities scholars who will  come together to understand how the humanities may contribute to civic conversations about environmental change and to better define the place that the academic humanities have in this process.

For a complete list of panelists and more information about the conference head to:

The conference’s keynote addresses are free and open to the public.

Lawrence Buell (English, Harvard)
Walker Ames Lecture*: Environmental Imagination at the Crossroads
Thursday, October 31, 2013, 6:30 pm, Kane 110
*Registration required at:

Earth seems to have entered a new geologic era–the Anthropocene–in which humankind has become the primary driver of global  environmental change for the first time in history. Though we can’t yet be certain, humankind may also be in the early stages of a new Copernican revolution in environmental ethics to address the potentially dire consequences of this. To that end, literature and all other expressive arts can be a powerful resource for reinvisioning humanity’s place on earth. Five specific major resources of this kind will be identified and discussed, with examples drawn from a wide range of recent literary works from around the world. Lawrence Buell will also take note along the way of several characteristic hazards that threaten to–but need not–perplex or neutralize environmental imagination’s potential as an ethical-aesthetic resource.

Ursula Heise (English, University of California, Los Angeles)
Environmental Humanities in the Anthropocene: Humans, Posthumans, and Other Endangered Species
Friday, November 1, 2013, 4:30 pm, Communications 120

The environmental humanities are currently emerging as a new interdisciplinary matrix from what have so far been distinct disciplinary trajectories in environmental history, ecocriticism, environmental philosophy, biological anthropology, cultural  geography, and political ecology. The concepts of the “Anthropocene” and “posthumanism” offer potential hinges to connect these diverse areas. But whereas debates about the Anthropocene have foregrounded humans’ new centrality to planetary nature because of their pervasive and enduring impact, several varieties of posthumanism and multispecies ethnography have on the contrary sought to displace the liberal human subject from its central place in philosophy, sociology, and politics. In this lecture, Ursula Heise discusses what difficulties and possibilities arise from this tension for envisioning the new field of environmental humanities and explores as an exemplary case current thinking about biodiversity and endangered species.


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