The Year in Review, 2016-17

The Year in Review, 2016-17

In 2016-17, Oecologies continued to have a vital presence at regional, national, and international events. We are delighted to report that we “grew”: David Coley (SFU), Deanna Kreisel (UBC), and Scott MacKenzie (UBC) joined the Oecologies team as collaborators, so our remit now reaches into the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Our page for “Scholarly Resources” reflects this change. In the next two years, we expect that such growth will result in further changes to OE’s governance, structure, and programming. This is an exciting time for us!

Members of the OE collective remained active on the conference circuit this year. Here are some highlights:

  • In association with the newly formed VCologies (V for Victorian) group, Deanna Kreisel and Elizabeth Carolyn Miller (UC Davis) organized the first VCologies Conference at UC Davis in September 2016. Another conference will take place this September at the University of Houston. VCologies also sponsored panels at two conferences (INCS 2017 and NAVSA 2016), held meetings at three conferences (INCS 2017, NAVSA 2016, and NAVSA Florence 2017), and began work on a special issue of Victorian Literature and Culture on “Open Ecologies” (edited by Deanna Kreisel and Devin Griffiths).
  • Vin Nardizzi was a member of the plenary session (“Queer Natures: Bodies, Sexualities, Environments”) at SAA 2017. He shared new OE-related work on panels at MLA 2017 (“Eco-rhetorics and Shakespeare”) and (“Memory Studies and the Anthropocene”). He also delivered one of the keynote addresses at “TheTransforming Bodies Conference” at Cornell University (April 2017), which was sponsored by the Early Modern Conversions project. At this conference, Patricia Badir gave a paper on the aesthetics of conversion at Little Gidding.
  • Robert Rouse and Mo Pareles (UBC) organized a session on indigeneity, avian bodies, and medieval literature at MAP 2017.
  • Tiffany Werth facilitated a session called “Performing Materiality and the Non/Human” that was part of an exploratory research collaboration between the International Spenser Society and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London entitled “Performing Elizabethan Poetry: Spenser and Shakespeare.” The event was a Research-in-Action workshop in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (June 2017). She also participated in an eco-themed roundtable at MLA 2017 on “The World is Flat: Ecomaterialist Perspectives of the Renaissance” and acted as a respondent to a special session on “Radical Hope and Premodern Ecologies.” She also gave a paper at “Early Modern Literary Geographies,” a conference sponsored by the Huntington Library in San Marino, California (October 2016) that brought together literary critics, historians, geographers and archaeologists to examine four key geographic sites—body, house, neighborhood, and region—to illuminate the important spatial structures and concepts that define the early modern engagement with the world.

Our Oecologies Speaker Series featured three public lectures. We kicked off the year with Kellie Robertson (University of Maryland), who presented “Ecologies of Scale: Imagining the Human” at SFU’s Harbour Center in November. Her paper examined how medieval writers used metaphors of scale, specifically microcosmic figures, to think about humans’ relationships to the natural world. In collaboration with the Science and Technology Studies Program at UBC, we welcomed in early 2017 Cannon Schmitt (Professor and Associate Director of the Ph.D. program in English at the University of Toronto), who talked about “Soft Water: A Metaphor and its Vicissitudes.” More recently, we hosted at SFU Harbour Centre Keith Pluymers (Howard E. & Susanne C. Jessen Postdoctoral Instructor in the Humanities at the California Institute of Technology). His paper, “‘Other Ages Shall Have Cause to Speak of This Age’: The Politics of Sustainability under Charles I,” considered forest management and environmental justice under the governments of Charles I and Oliver Cromwell.

Some of us designed and taught courses related to the Oecologies mandate. Tiffany Werth and John Craig co-taught a graduate course on “Renaissance Reformations: Religion, Print, and the Natural World” that included an innovative field module – a one-week immersive encounter with the early modern archive at the Huntington Library. At UBC, Robert Rouse taught a graduate seminar that introduced a new batch of students to Ecocriticism. If you wish to learn more about these courses and their reading lists, please contact Robert and Tiffany.

As we enter the new school term, we are pleased to report that we will be attending the Pacific Northwest Renaissance Society Conference, which will be held in Portland, OR in October. We will convene an OE roundtable featuring Jeffrey Jerome Cohen (George Washington U), David Coley, Sarah Crover (UBC), Louisa Mackenzie (U Washington), and Allan Mitchell (U Victoria), with a response by Tiffany Werth. We have also organized a panel on Shakespeare and the West, which includes Patricia Badir, Gretchen Minton (U Montana, Bozeman), and Vin Nardizzi. Oecologies will also host a cash bar at this event. Further details about where and when you can find other OE-related events in the upcoming year will soon be posted on our website.

Finally, we thank our RAs from the past year, all of whom made our programming stronger and our online presence engaged. In particular, we are grateful to Emily Lauman (SFU) for her work updating the “Scholarly Resources” page and facilitating Kellie Robertson’s visit and to Justin O’Hearn (UBC) for keeping our social media presence live. We also congratulate our former RA, Daniel Helbert, who is now an Assistant Professor of English at West Texas A&M!

The Oecologies Team

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