Oecologies: Engaging the World, From Here

The Oecologies Research Group is excited to announce an upcoming two-day, international, and
multi-institutional conference: “Oecologies: engaging the world, from here.” It will take place
from 1-3 October 2015 at Harbour Centre (Simon Fraser University) in downtown Vancouver.

Participants include an international roster of established scholars as well as local university
faculty and graduate students who specialize in literature before 1700. The conference explores
how the premodern continues to press upon the present. In particular, it asks how the theoretical
dilemmas of place and identity that generally inform ecocriticism and the Humanities’
engagement with the environment might have roots within the premodern. Transhistorical in
scope and multi-continental in composition (speakers hail from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe,
and North America), the conference takes literally the mandate to “engage the world” (SFU’s
brand) from a particular locale, “from here” (UBC’s former brand). The conference will query
the tension between parts of the environmental movement summarized as its cultural or “human
dimension”—its literature and stories—and ecological crisis. The conversations thus begin in a
common literature, but expand to examine how different, and modern, locales shape our
perception of the premodern literary past.

The conference draws inspiration from our keynote speaker, Ursula K. Heise, Professor of
English and faculty member of UCLA’s (University of California, Los Angeles) Institute of the
Environment and Sustainability (IoES). 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 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.

Keynote Speaker

Ursula HeiseUrsula Heise (Professor of English, University of California, Los Angeles, Faculty Member at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability)

“The Environmental Humanities in the Anthropocene”
This event is open to the public.




Jeffery Jerome CohenJeffrey Jerome Cohen (Professor of English, George Washington University, Director of Institute for Medieval & Early Modern Studies)
“The Love of Life (5 Local Readings of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight)”


Frances DolanFrances Dolan (Professor of English, University of California, Davis)

“Wine, Time, and Terroir”


Simon EstokSimon Estok (Professor of English Language and Literature, Sungkyunkwan University, South Korea)
“Here and there, then and now: Shakespeare and the Global Supermarket”


David MatthewsDavid Matthews (Senior Lecturer in English, University of Manchester)
“Rain, Steam, Speed – and Turrets: How Green is Medievalism?”


Louise Noble Louise Noble (Senior Lecturer in English, School of Arts, University of New England, Australia)
“Bold Riparian Schemes: The Hydrosocial Cycle Across Time and Space”


Sharon O'DairSharon O’Dair (Hudson Strode Professor of English, University of Alabama)
“Consuming Debt”


Sandra YoungSandra Young (Senior Lecturer in English, University of Cape Town, South Africa)
“The ‘secrets of nature’ and Early Modern Constructions of a Global South”


To attend these sessions, which are not open access, please contact Nathan Szymanski
(nszymans@sfu.ca) and request to be placed on an auditor’s list.


The Locals Roundtable

In addition to the international speakers, the conference will also feature a roundtable in which scholars “from here” – that is the Pacific Northwest – will engage a series of key words related to the conference theme—such as distance, adaptation, translation, scale, niche, ecotone, failure, premodern, people, creature, globe—in a series of brief presentations followed by a roundtable discussion. The “from here” scholars are Heather Blurton (English, University of California, Santa Barbara), David Coley (English, Simon Fraser University), Louisa Mackenzie (French, University of Washington), Allan Mitchell (English, University of Victoria), and Coll Thrush (History, University of British Columbia).
To attend this session, which is not open access, please contact Nathan Szymanski
(nszymans@sfu.ca) and request to be placed on an auditor’s list.


The Play

The conference will include a workshop performance of John Lyly’s Gallathea (1592) at
SFU’s Woodward’s Theatre. Set at the edge of a forest, upon land that is perpetually threatened by the sea, Gallathea is a play about ecological conversion and the thematics of transformation, which, as this performance will highlight, are intensified by the physical environments that spur and surround them. Based on the model of The Globe Education’s series “Read Not Dead,” UBC alumni actors will perform a dramatic reading.
This event is open to the public.
A full program will be available shortly. If you have any questions about the conference or
would like more information, please contact Nathan Szymanski (nszymans@sfu.ca).

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