We are delighted to report that “Oecologies” has successfully completed its second year of interdisciplinary, cross-period programming. We – Patricia Badir, Vin Nardizzi, Robert Rouse, and Tiffany Werth – offer here a roundup of the year’s activities and a preview of the exciting new initiatives that we’ll embark upon next academic year.
Under the banner of “The Histories of Sustainability,” we hosted eight speakers at Green College: they introduced us to the relationship between sustainability and the Anthropocene (Jeremy Davies); to the queerness of plant sex (Catriona Sandilands); to the localism of sustainable practice and knowledge (Kenneth Lertzman); to the fossil record in seventeenth-century culture (Paula Findlen); to the concepts of panarchy and resilience (Karen Bakker); to the meanings of “raw materials” in the Victorian era (Deanna Kreisel); to the sociology of gift economies (Thomas Kemple); and to contemporary thinking about zoophilia (Greg Garrard). We are grateful to the Green College community for facilitating this suite of diverse perspectives on what sustainability is and what it is that we think we should sustain.
From 7-9 November 2014, members of the “Oecologies” collective also convened at Green College for the 42nd Annual UBC Medieval Workshop (in conjunction with SFU). Medieval and Renaissance Oecologies brought together researchers from around North America and Europe to interrogate premodern understandings of the natural world and ecological thinking. In an effort to define complex terms such as “environment,” “landscape,” and “ecology,” we asked: Where do these terms come from? What came before them? What do they mean here and now? What did conceptions of Nature and “œcology” look like in the medieval and Renaissance periods and how did different discourse communities define their meanings? Our keynote speakers for this conference were Jonathan Hsy (George Washington University) and Laurie Shannon (Northwestern University). Our conference also partnered with the 40th North American Byzantine Studies Conference, which convened in Vancouver that same weekend.
Graduate student and faculty members of “Oecologies” also participated in the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference (16-19 October 2014), the 3rd Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group (16-18 October 2014), the Modern Language Association (MLA) Annual Convention (8-11 January 2015), the Renaissance Society of America (RSA) Annual Meeting (26-28 March 2015), and the Shakespeare Association of America (SAA) Annual Meeting (2-5 April 2015).
Looking Ahead to 2015-16
In the upcoming year, “Oecologies” programming will change and will, we hope, remain exciting and diverse as ever. We will not be convening a speaker series at Green College. Instead, we have planned three major events for the upcoming year.
In July 2015, we will be partnering with Daniel Heath Justice, who spoke in our first series at Green College, and Rachel Poliquin, for a symposium called “AnimalFest: Celebrating Reaktion’s Animal Series.”
A diverse collection of Animal authors will discuss their species-specific volumes, the burgeoning field of Animal Studies, and their experiences in writing cultural histories for this transformative book series. Events will include a one-day symposium at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum on 18 July 2015 and a public reading/discussion on 19 July. For more information, go to https://www.facebook.com/AnimalFest2015.
From 1-3 October 2015, we will convene in Vancouver a multi-day symposium called “Oecologies: Engaging the World From Here.” Under the generous auspices of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada’s Connection Grant program and in partnership with UBC and SFU, we have invited eight speakers – Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Frances Dolan, Jonathan Gil Harris, Ursula Heise, David Matthews, Louise Noble, Sharon O’Dair, and Sandra Young – to reflect on how their specific locale in the so-called Anthropocene Era has come to inform how they conceptualize scholarly research on the literary cultures of medieval and Renaissance England.
These speakers will be joined by select local “Oecologies” researchers, and, in addition to sharing research findings, we will enjoy a guided eco-tour of Vancouver and will participate in a rehearsed reading of John Lyly’s play Gallathea, which will be run by “Oecologies” co-organizer Patricia Badir.
In Spring 2016, we will host an event at the Shakespeare Association of America (SAA) Annual Meeting in New Orleans (23-26 March 2016). Vin Nardizzi will lead a seminar called “Shakespeare and the Histories of Sustainability.” Our confirmed invited participants include Patricia Badir, Hillary Eklund, Rebecca Totaro, and Tiffany Werth. Below is a draft of the seminar description:
What might Shakespeare and his contemporaries contribute to multi-disciplinary conversations about sustainability? Do English Renaissance texts and institutions model “sustainable practices”? Do they resist such practices, imagine them differently, or figure their failure? Papers are welcome on such topics as catastrophe, climate change, debt and gift economies, excess and festival, husbandry, resource depletion and extraction, resilience, risk management, scarcity, sufficiency, and yields.
Please consider joining us in the seminar as a participant or as an auditor!
“Oecologies” members will also be sponsoring and/or participating in events at the 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo (14-17 May 2015), the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference (22-25 October 2015), the MLA (7-10 January 2016), and the “Canada + Shakespeare” Symposium in Ottawa (21-23 April 2016).
We are grateful for the 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 communications network, Sarah Crover; special thanks also to Tessa Cernik, Daniel Helbert, Kelsey Moskal, Kristan Newell, Jade Standing, Nathan Szymanski, and Matt Warner. Finally, and most deeply, we thank you, our network of colleagues, for your continued interest in our programming.
Tiffany Jo Werth