We’re delighted to announce the good news that our SSHRC Connection Grant has been awarded funding for “Oecologies: engaging the world, from here,” which is a two-day, international, and multi-institutional conference that we will host at the downtown Vancouver campus of Simon Fraser University (SFU) from 1-3 October 2015.
By inviting an international group of established scholars and local university graduate students and faculty members who specialize in literature before 1700, we aim to scrutinize what “engaging the world” (SFU’s brand) “from here” (UBC’s brand) entails historically and geographically. As such, the conference will provide the space to explore the tension between parts of the environmental movement summarized as its cultural or “human dimension”—its literature and stories—and ecological crisis. It draws inspiration from our keynote speaker, Professor Ursula Heise, Professor in the Department of English and at the Institute of the Environment & Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles. In Sense of Place and Sense of Planet (2008), Heise traces the fraught relation between “ecolocalism” and the idea of the global in environmentalist advocacies (mainly North American and German) from the mid-twentieth century to the present moment. Our contributors will bear in mind Heise’s call for an “eco-cosmopolitanism,” which aims to articulate “ways of imagining the global that frame localism from a globalist environmental perspective,” even as they add further historical depth to the environmental history that Heise outlines.
This conference will focus on the theoretical dilemmas of place and identity that generally inform ecocriticism and the Humanities’ engagement with the environment. Through a transhistorical exploration, our participants question how the premodern continues to press upon the present. Rather than build on analysis from a single location, the multi-continental composition (Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America) of the conference thus begins in a common literature but extends to an examination of how the context of different environments and policies shapes the reception of the premodern literary past.
Stay tuned for a full schedule and paper titles!