The “Oecologies” research cluster has enjoyed an exciting first year! At Green College, we hosted six speakers who introduced us to object-oriented philosophies and medieval culture (Allan Mitchell); to the intersection of environmental justice and Indigenous epistemologies in the figure of the more-than-human “relative” (Daniel Heath Justice); to two divergent and yet related models of “nature” in early modern European philosophy (Lisa Shapiro); to the vexed matter of a free sea (Renisa Mawani); to the history of “oeconomy” (Margaret Schabas); and to the inability to comprehend “wilderness” in sixteenth-century France (Louisa Mackenzie). These speakers have focused our collective attention on the long, intertwined, and multidisciplinary histories of ecology, economy, environment, and social justice. Individually and collectively, our speakers have demonstrated intellectual gameness and generosity. They have helped us to think through why we do the scholarly work that we do from here, on the North American Pacific Coast.
In 2014, members of the “Oecologies” research cluster also convened elsewhere, specifically the Renaissance Society of America (RSA) Annual Meeting in New York City, to discuss some of the cluster’s keywords – “composting,” “forest,” “environs,” “scale,” “animal,” and “ecology.” Our roundtable speakers were Frances Dolan (University of California, Davis), Carla Freccero (University of California, Santa Cruz), Jeffrey Todd Knight (University of Washington), Peter Mancall (University of Southern California, Dornsife), Vin Nardizzi (UBC), and Tiffany Jo Werth (Simon Fraser University); Patricia Badir (UBC) was the chair of our session. The roundtable was a resounding success: it was well attended, and its audience members asked the panelists engaged questions. We look forward to holding similar intellectual gatherings at conferences and colloquia next year.
Looking Ahead to 2014-15
In the upcoming year, “Oecologies” hopes to build upon its successes at Green College and at other scholarly venues. Our GC speaker series theme for 2014-15 is “The Histories of Sustainability,” and we have invited a roster of excellent speakers from a range of disciplines and faculties to discuss with us this vital environmental keyword. Stay tuned for updates about the final schedule of speakers.
UBC’s Medieval Studies Program will also be hosting the 42nd Medieval Workshop (7-9 November 2014) at Green College. The theme for this gathering is “Medieval and Renaissance Oecologies,” and its confirmed plenary speakers are Laurie Shannon (Northwestern University) and Jonathan Hsy (George Washington University). We have accepted wonderful proposals for this workshop and will circulate very soon a draft schedule of events.
“Oecologies” members will also be sponsoring and/or participating in events at the 3rd Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group (16-18 October 2014), the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference (22-25 October 2014), the RSA (26-28 March 2015), the Shakespeare Association of America (2-4 April 2015), and the 50th International Medieval Congress at Kalamazoo (14-17 May 2015).
In addition to ours speakers, we are grateful for the support and generosity of Mark Vessey, Alan Gumboc, John Corry, and Simone Goguen at Green College. We must also thank the person who is single-handedly responsible for our online presence and communications network, Carmel Ohman, without whom our pursuits would have gone unrealized. Finally, and most deeply, we thank you, our audience of students, faculty members, and residents of Green College, for attending these talks with dedication and for engaging our series and its speakers with a curiosity about multidisciplinary and transhistorical matters and methods.
Tiffany Jo Werth