The Year in Review, 2017-18

2016-17 saw Oecologies grow with new members and expand its temporal range into the 19th century. 2017-18 continued that trend and was a year marked by change, development, and the culmination of initiatives. Such change and growth crystallized over the summer, when a subcommittee of Oe collaborators was tasked with exploring models for best practices and sustainable growth. At summer’s end, the existing slate of co-investigators and collaborators from the Pacific Northwest voted to expand Oe’s geographic reach down the Pacific West coast and instituted a new structure of institutional governance, including new leadership roles and newly codified parameters for membership. Under this new structure, Vin Nardizzi will be assuming the role of Director, with Tiffany Werth filling the role of Past Director and David Coley as Incoming (Future) Director. The executive council will consist of Alex Cosh (UBC), Karol Pasciano (UBC), and Breanne Weber (UC Davis) as Graduate Student Liaisons; Mo Pareles (UBC) as Diversity Officer; J. Allan Mitchell (University of Victoria) as International / National Affiliate Liaison; Frances Dolan (UC Davis) as Activities Coordinator; Courtney Barajas (Whitworth University) as Executive Secretary; and Louisa Mackenzie (University of Washington) and Sharon O’Dair (Emerita) as Membership Coordinators. We believe that these new structures of governance should position Oe to build on our past strengths and successes. With the help of RA support from UC-Davis, Tiffany, Vin, and David will begin a substantial overhaul of the current Oe webpages that reflects these changes, a project that we expect to be completed by early 2019.

As it did last year, the Oe Speaker Series featured three public lectures. In late October, in collaboration with the STS Colloquium at UBC, Jesse Oak Taylor (University of Washington) presented “Conrad’s Earth System Poetics.” The paper situated the work of Joseph Conrad within the overlapping environmental and human systems—biosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, etc.—as they existed within his fraught cultural moment. In January, again at UBC, we welcomed Hillary Eklund (Loyola University) for a lecture entitled “Swamped: Wetlands and Mobility in the Early Modern Atlantic,” which considered the metaphorical and historical dimensions of swamps and wetlands, both real (Ireland’s bogs, England’s Fens, Florida’s Everglades) and imagined (Milton’s swampy Hell, Bunyan’s Slough of Despond), in the Early Modern literary imagination. Finally, in March, we hosted Sharon Kinoshita (University of California, Santa Cruz) at SFU’s Harbour Centre campus. Her talk, “Counting Sheep: Marco Polo and the Global Middle Ages,” situated Marco Polo’s representations of sheep in his Description of the World against Latin-European, Islamicate, and Chinese representations in order to interrogate the distinctiveness of Polo’s broader descriptions of the world.

In addition to the Speaker Series, Oe was well represented in regional and international conferences this year, both through its own sponsored sessions and in the related work of its individual participants. Several Oe-related publications also appeared this year in edited collections and refereed journals. The following are a few highlights:

  • VCologies, Houston, TX (September 2017). VCologies hosted its second annual conference at the University of Houston. Deanna Kreisel presented a paper entitled “Troubling Organicism” in a panel on ecoScience.
  • The Pacific Northwest Renaissance Society, Portland, OR (October 2017). Oe organized two sessions. The first, a roundtable held in anticipation of Premodern Ecologies in the Modern Literary Imagination and facilitated by Vin Nardizzi, featured Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, David Coley, Sarah Crover, Louisa Mackenzie, and Allan Mitchell, with a response by Tiffany Werth. The second, a paper panel on Shakespeare and the West, included work by both Vin Nardizzi and Patricia Badir, as well as Gretchen Minton (University of Montana). Finally, Frances Dolan’s beautiful keynote, “Hedge/rows,” reflected many of the interests of Oe as a whole, and it set the tone for an ecologically tinged PNRS conference. Oe also hosted a rousing cash bar mixer Friday evening during the conference which facilitated more informal conversation and networking.
  • MLA, New York, NY (January 2018). Vin Nardizzi and Tiffany Werth both participated in Oe-related sessions, Vin in a roundtable entitled Critical Semantics: New Transcultural Keywords (he spoke on “grafting”) and Tiffany in a roundtable on Performance, Materiality, and Ecology in Early Modern Literature. In addition, Vin presided over a panel on “Early Modern Biopolitics: Race, Nature, Sexuality.”
  • The Renaissance Society of America, New Orleans, LA (March 2018). Tiffany Werth presented “Lithic After Life and the New Jerusalem,” part of her continuing research on stone in the Early Modern Imagination as part of a two-part panel series bringing together literature scholars and art historians. Vin Nardizzi and Tom White both participated in a roundtable on Premodern Plants, and Vin and Louisa Mackenzie were also among the discussants on a roundtable entitled “Eco-philology: Early Modern Environmental Words and World.”
  • Association for Literature, Environment, and Culture in Canada, Victoria, BC (June 2018). Sarah Crover and David Coley both participated in “Making and Breaking with Environmental Periodization,” an interdisciplinary roundtable on the role of the Environmental Humanities in the academy.
  • Frances Dolan published two articles related to her essay in the forthcoming Premodern Ecologies in the Modern Literary Imagination. The first “Blood of the Grape” appeared in Blood Matters: Studies in European Literature and Thought, 1400-1700, eds. Bonnie Lander Johnson and Eleanor Decamp (Philadelphia:  U of Pennsylvania P, 2018), pp. 211-23; and the second, “Time, Gender, and the Mystery of English Wine” was part of Gendered Temporalities in the Early Modern World, ed. Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks (Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP, 2018).
  • In early March, Vin Nardizzi and Patricia Badir both presented on Oe-related research in the Shakespeare Names and Sto:lo Memoryscapes symposium at the University of the Fraser Valley.
  • Tiffany Werth gave a talk on alchemy that explored its deployment as a surprisingly fecund model for human generation and poetic figuration in Distillation and Alchemy: Science, Society, and Sentiment, a one-day symposium hosted by the UC Davis Humanities Institute, Department of Classics, and Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

In addition, several collaborators taught classes related to Oe concerns. In Fall of 2017, Tiffany Werth developed a section of “Topics in Early Modern English Non-Dramatic Literature” at SFU that considered both the Early Modern roots of contemporary ecological thought and the challenges of engaging with premodern thought from the 21st-century West Coast. In the same term, Mo Pareles designed a grad course at UBC on Ecocritical Approaches to Beowulf, one that drew from animal studies, speculative realism, science studies, indigenous studies, and other contemporary critical approaches. Finally, in the UBC winter term, Vin Nardizzi offered “Anthropocene: Nomenclatures, Histories, Criticism,” a graduate course introducing students to the multidisciplinary literatures that have recently and increasingly constellated around this designation.

As we look forward to the next academic year, we are excited about several ongoing projects. Patricia Badir—in conjunction with Oe, Bard on the Beach, UBC’s Community-University Engagement Support fund, and faculty partners from UBC and SFU—will continue developing the Galatea Project, which will bring scholars, students, theatre producers and performers together for a six-day workshop and public reading of John Lyly’s play that explores the topics of same-sex romance and climate change. We are also looking forward to the projected 2019 arrival of Premodern Ecologies in the Modern Literary Imagination, edited by Vin and Tiffany, published by the University of Toronto Press. The volume originated with 2015’s Oecologies: Engaging the World, From Here conference, and features contributions from many Oe collaborators, as well as other scholars in the Environmental Humanities. Finally, Allan Mitchell, in collaboration with Tom White and Breanne Weber, has also agreed to coordinate linked Oe sessions for ASLE 2019, which is to be held at Davis on 26-30 June 2019.

We want to conclude with a round of thanks: first to our Oe RA from the past year, Alex Cosh (UBC), who was instrumental in keeping our social media presence and our website current, as well as in managing publicity for our speaker series; and second, to our new and ongoing players who make academic collaboration an enriching labor.

David Coley

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 “The Transforming 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

The Year in Review, 2015-16

Oecologies has just finished a successful third year of multi-disciplinary, premodern programing in the Environmental Humanities. As its principal investigators, we—Patricia Badir, Vin Nardizzi, Robert Rouse, and Tiffany Werth—are happy to report on a dynamic year of activities and to share the new directions that Oecologies will take over the next academic year.

During the year under review we convened and co-sponsored three major events.

In July of 2015, we partnered 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.”


At this two-day event, a diverse collection of Animal authors discussed their species-specific volumes, the burgeoning field of Animal Studies, and their experiences in writing cultural histories for this transformative book series. Events were held at a one-day symposium at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum and a public reading/discussion at the Vancouver Public Library.

Our biggest event of the year was a multi-day international 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 invited eight speakers from around the globe – Jeffrey Jerome CohenFrances DolanSimon EstokUrsula HeiseDavid MatthewsLouise NobleSharon 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 were joined by a dynamic roundtable of local “Oecologies” researchers from the Pacific Coast who talked about their own status as regionally situated medieval and early modern scholars: J. Allan Mitchell (University of Victoria); Heather Blurton (University of California, Santa Barbara); David Coley (Simon Fraser University); Louisa Mackenzie (University of Washington); and Coll Thrush (University of British Columbia).

Elder Ethel of the Stelómethet tribe, who is SFU’s Elder in Residence, welcomed our conference participants to the unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples and began our conference in a good way. In addition to two days of symposia and a final keynote address, we hosted a guided eco-tour of Stanley Park led by Dr. Sally Aitken, Professor of Forest and Conservation Sciences at UBC. On Friday evening, co-organizer Patricia Badir led The Lyly Gilders, a collective of UBC BFA students (past and present), English students, and a few other brave souls, in conducting a workshop reading of Catherine Fergusson and Tai Grauman’s adaptation of John Lyly’s Gallathea (1592) to the Pacific Northwest. The reading was held at SFU Woodward’s Theatre.

For a full reflection of the event including paper abstracts, see

Our final event was held under the auspices of the Shakespeare Association of America Annual Meeting in New Orleans (23-26 March 2016). Vin Nardizzi convened a seminar called “Shakespeare and the Histories of Sustainability.” Invited respondents Patricia BadirHillary EklundRebecca Totaro, and Tiffany Werth joined in conversation with scholars from across North America to address the following questions:

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.

Finally, “Oecologies” members sponsored and/or participated in the following events:

  • the 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo (14-17 May 2015)
  • the Fifth International Spenser Society Conference in Dublin (18-20 June 2015)
  • ASLE Biennial Conference at the University of Idaho (23-27 June 2015)
  • the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference in Vancouver (22-25 October 2015)
  • the MLA in Austin (7-10 January 2016)
  • a symposium on Ovid, Lyly, and Benserade at the University of Michigan (29 January 2016)
  • Medieval Association of the Pacific Conference at the University of California, Davis (31 March – 2 April 2016)
  • the “Canada + Shakespeare” symposium in Ottawa (21-23 April 2016).

Looking Ahead to 2016-17 

In the next year, “Oecologies” programming will offer a festival-style series of talks and workshops aimed at building on the significant momentum generated in 2015-16.

KRIn fall 2016, we will be bringing Professor Kellie Robertson ( to speak. Dr. Robertson is the author of The Laborer’s Two Bodies: Labor and the ‘Work’ of the Text in Medieval Britain, 1350-1500 (Palgrave Macmillan in 2006), as well as numerous articles on the medieval and early modern periods. In recent years, her work has increasingly addressed what we might call the environmental thought of the Middle Ages, particularly through the frame of medieval neo-Aristotelianism. This focus has resulted in her new book, which is forthcoming from the University of Pennsylvania Press, Nature Speaks: Medieval Literature and Aristotelian Natural Philosophy. Dr. Robertson’s work clearly comports with our mission to rethink “ecology,” and it will likely be of interest to many in the university community more broadly. Her talk is titled “Ecologies of Scale: Imagining the Human.”

Cannon Schmitt_photoIn the spring of 2017, we are excited to range forward in time to the Nineteenth century and to host Professor Cannon Schmitt (Professor and Associate Director of the PhD program in English at the University of Toronto) ( Professor Schmitt is the author of two books, Darwin and the Memory of the Human: Evolution, Savages, and South America (Cambridge University Press, 2009; paperback reprint 2013) and Alien Nation: Nineteenth-Century Gothic Fictions and English Nationality (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997), and co-editor of Victorian Investments: New Perspectives on Finance and Culture (Indiana University Press, 2008). His essays have appeared in RepresentationsVictorian StudiesELHGenre, and elsewhere. His current SSHRC-funded book project, which is tentatively titled The Literal Sea, hypothesizes that the ocean and associated phenomena—tides, prevailing winds, marine engineering, ships under sail—constitute a privileged locus of the literal in Victorian fiction. His talk, which draws from this new work, is titled “Soft Water: A Metaphor and Its Vicissitudes.”

Oecologies members will also once again take to the road and sponsor and/or participate in events such as a Huntington Conference “Literary Geographies” (14-15 October 2016), the MLA (5-8 January 2017) in Philadelphia, and at the SAA (5-8 April 2017) in Atlanta.

Thank you!  

With grateful acknowledgement to the following institutions and departments for their support:

  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada;
  • Simon Fraser University Department of English and Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences;
  • and University of British Columbia, Department of English, Faculty of Arts, Hampton Research Fund, and Office of the Vice President Research.



A special shout out of thanks is due to the unflagging support of the former Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, SFU, John Craig. In addition, we were grateful for the generosity of SFU’s Woodward’s Theatre and Rob Kitsos, faculty in the School for Contemporary Arts at SFU; Dean of Arts, UBC Gage Averill and Associate Dean, Matthew Evenden; and we offer up a deep debt of gratitude to our colleagues who helped moderate our events: Paul Budra, Anne Higgins, Elizabeth Hodgson, Matthew Hussey, Scott MacKenzie, Siân Echard, Juliet O’Brien, and Stephen Guy-Bray.

Finally, perhaps most significantly, we are also grateful for the incredible team of graduate and undergraduate students at both Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia who helped our real time events run smoothly and shared our programming with the wider public on social media: Daniel Helbert, Nathan Szymanski and Mariella Ocampo. We are happy to see our list of collaborators expand and we welcome David Coley, Scott MacKenzie, and Deana Kreisel to the team. Finally, we applaud our network of colleagues who remain interested and supportive of our programming.

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
( 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
( 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 (

Mon April 13: Greg Garrard, “Being Zoo: Bestial Humans and Sexual Animals,” Oecologies Speaker Series at Green College, UBC

Please join us for the final talk of the semester in the Oecologies Speaker Series at Green College, at UBC:

Dr. Greg Garrard 

(Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, University of British Columbia, Okanagan)
“Being Zoo: Bestial Humans and Sexual Animals”
5-6:30pm, Mon April 13, Coach House, Green College, UBC

Greg GarrardSummary: Following a period of liberalization in the 1960s and 1970s, sex with animals is being gradually re-criminalized: Germany has recently banned “actions alien to the species,” while Sweden has recently proposed a law against “bestiality.” Reports of the debates construct zoophiles as sexually “predatory” (itself a zoomorphic term) and the animals involved as innocent “victims.” Because in all these countries cruelty to animals is already illegal, however, it can only be zoophilic desire as such that is abominable. Moreover, sexual interaction with animals is fundamental to the workings of the intensive meat industry, so the laws have had to frame the bans carefully, specifying, as best they can, erotic intention. The arguments in favour of criminalization equivocate intriguingly between the older, anthropocentric stigmatization of “bestiality” and newer rhetorics of animal welfare and rights. The two often mix poorly together. Meanwhile, queer ecocriticism and critical animal studies have been re-evaluating animal sexuality: Bruce Bagemihl’s landmark Biological Exuberance is a non-human Pride parade of sexual configurations, while Joan Roughgarden overtly analogizes the diversity of human and animal eroticism in Evolution’s Rainbow. “Being Zoo” will engineer a collision between the new laws against zoophilia and the celebration of queer eroticism among animals, taking in such literary and cinematic representations of zoophilia as Robinson Devor’s Zoo, Marian Engel’s Bear, and Peter Shaffer’s Equus.

All those attending talks in this series are invited to stay for dinner at Green College with the speaker. Those interested in attending dinner are asked to make a reservation at least by noon the business day before. Contact 604-822-8660 or visit the Green College website for details.

“Oecologies: Histories of Sustainability” is a Speaker Series sponsored by Green College that gathers scholars from the humanities living and working along the North American Pacific coast to investigate the idea of “oecology,” an older spelling of the modern concept “ecology.” For event details, abstracts, and speaker information, please visit or view the event poster. Also follow us on Twitter (@Oecologies) and “Like” us on Facebook (! If you have other questions about Oecologies, please do not hesitate to contact me ( or our assistant, Sarah Crover (


Wed March 25: Thomas Kemple, “Mauss’s Roundtable: Continuity and Change in the Economy of the Eco-gift,” Oecologies Speaker Series at Green College, UBC

Please join us for the fourth talk of the semester in the Oecologies Speaker Series at Green College, at UBC:

Dr. Thomas Kemple 
(Department of Sociology, University of British Columbia)
“Mauss’s Roundtable: Continuity and Change in the Economy of the Eco-gift”
5-6:30pm, Wed March 25, Coach House, Green College, UBC

 This talk considers the arguments of some classical sociologists from the turn of the nineteenth to the twentieth century concerning the relationship between subsistence economies of reproduction and sacrificial economies of symbolic exchange. Marcel Mauss’s celebrated figure of “the roundtable of gift-exchange” presents us with a model of reciprocity and rivalry, solidarity and strife that can be framed by Georg Simmel’s general reflections on the self-preservation of social groups and Thorstein Veblen’s famous thesis concerning the conspicuous consumption of the leisure classes. With reference to a few ordinary and imaginary examples, such as the family meal and the festive sacrifice, I consider how these early accounts of the extra-or non-economic foundations of social life anticipate and even exceed recent cultural theories of what I am calling the “eco-gift”: the paradox of “a given space to inhabit” or of “a given thing to have” that connects by separating, binds while freeing, and takes in receiving. By recovering this classic theme from the history of the science of social economics, I argue for a kind of “object-oriented sociology” that considers how bonds of association are materialized and describes how non-human things establish and make visible relations between people.

All those attending talks in this series are invited to stay for dinner at Green College with the speaker. Those interested in attending dinner are asked to make a reservation at least by noon the business day before. Contact 604-822-8660 or visit the Green College website for details.

“Oecologies: Histories of Sustainability” is a Speaker Series sponsored by Green College that gathers scholars from the humanities living and working along the North American Pacific coast to investigate the idea of “oecology,” an older spelling of the modern concept “ecology.” For event details, abstracts, and speaker information, please visit or view the event poster. Also follow us on Twitter (@Oecologies) and “Like” us on Facebook (! If you have other questions about Oecologies, please do not hesitate to contact me ( or our assistant, Sarah Crover (


Wed Feb 25: Deanna Kreisel, “Ruskin’s Raw Materials: Toward a History of ‘Sustainability,’” Oecologies Speaker Series at Green College, UBC

Please join us for the third talk of the semester in the Oecologies Speaker Series at Green College, at UBC:

Dr. Deanna Kreisel
(Department of English, University of British Columbia)
“Ruskin’s Raw Materials: Toward a History of ‘Sustainability’”
5-6:30pm, Wed Feb 25, the Piano Lounge at Graham House, Green College, UBC

KreiselPhotoSummary: Much of the content of contemporary sustainability discourse in the West can be traced back to the social reform movements of the Victorian period. As David M. Craig notes, for political economist and art critic John Ruskin, “the exercise of moral restraint as a consumer starts in a recognition of specific physical limits…. [T]his recognition of physical limits and a commitment to moral restraint are inextricably bound.” Patrick Brantlinger extends this line of thinking even further when he insists that for Ruskin, “the apparently private choices of individual consumers, gendered female, are matters of public, national urgency.” This paper will begin to sketch a history of the concept of sustainability in the nineteenth century by examining how Ruskin’s challenge to Victorian models of private domesticity also includes an alternative conceptualization of the relationship between interior and exterior, both bodily and architectural. In his 1858 lecture “The Work of Iron, In Nature, Art, and Policy,” for example, Ruskin delivers a polemical analysis of “raw materials” as an important part of a reconfigured relationship between natural and human activity—a relationship that is characterized by limits and bounded by quite literal frames and rigid structures for which iron becomes the emblem. This paper will trace this line of thinking throughout some of Ruskin’s voluminous body of work, and consider its roots in the Physiocrats’ model of self-contained economic organization and its future in theories of steady state zero growth economies.

All those attending talks in this series are invited to stay for dinner at Green College with the speaker. Those interested in attending dinner are asked to make a reservation at least by noon the business day before. Contact 604-822-8660 or visit the Green College website for details.

“Oecologies: Histories of Sustainability” is a Speaker Series sponsored by Green College that gathers scholars from the humanities living and working along the North American Pacific coast to investigate the idea of “oecology,” an older spelling of the modern concept “ecology.” For event details, abstracts, and speaker information, please visit or view the event poster. Also follow us on Twitter (@Oecologies) and “Like” us on Facebook (! If you have other questions about Oecologies, please do not hesitate to contact me ( or our assistant, Sarah Crover (