The Year in Review, 2014-15

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.

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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.”

AnimalFest_Logo_Screen_horizontal_cymk

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).

Thank you!

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.

Vin Nardizzi
Tiffany Jo Werth
Patricia Badir
Robert Rouse

Wed Nov 26: Kenneth Lertzman, “Ecology and a Sense of Place: Go for a Walk in the Woods and Save the World,” Oecologies Speaker Series at Green College, UBC

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

 
Dr.Kenneth Lertzman
(School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University)
“Ecology and a Sense of Place: Go for a Walk in the Woods and Save the World”
5-6:30 pm, Wed Nov 26, Coach House, Green College, UBC

KenLertzmanOESummary: What have we learned about people’s relationships with nature from explorations at the nexus of ecology, archaeology, and ethnobiology?  There are many examples of both positive and destructive interactions with the environment in the archaeological and historical records – and in research on modern systems of resource management. However, one broad conclusion is that sustainability is a learned phenomenon – and that learning happens through intense engagement with nature, whether through the multi-generational lived experience of traditional knowledge or through formal scientific research. Society today faces many profound challenges in our relationships with the global environmental systems that support us. All of these are made more difficult by the withdrawal of human experience from intense immersion in the natural world, loss of multi-generational connections to place, systematic dismantling of local knowledge in management institutions, and the disenfranchisement of science in the policy-making system. These issues, as expressed in phenomena such as global climate change, are the defining social-ecological problems of our time.

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 oecologies.com or view the event poster. Also follow us on Twitter (@Oecologies) and “Like” us on Facebook (facebook.com/oecologies)! If you have other questions about Oecologies, please do not hesitate to contact me (nardizzi@mail.ubc.ca) or our assistant, Sarah Crover (sarah.crover@alumni.ubc.ca).

Wed Oct 29: Catriona Sandilands, “Botanically Queer: Plants, Sex, and Biopolitics,” Co-sponsored by the Oecologies Speaker Series and held at the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice

Please join us for the second talk of the Oecologies Speaker Series co-sponsored by Green College at UBC:

Dr. Catriona Sandilands
(Environmental Studies, York University)
“Botanically Queer: Plants, Sex, and Biopolitics”
12-1 pm, Wed Oct 29th, Jack Bell Building, 028
(Event co-sponsored with Ecologies of Social Difference)  

 
SandilandOE.Summary:
 Plants have been profoundly queer players in modern projects of describing “life” for ethical and political consideration. From their taxonomic destabilizations of colonial order in the eighteenth century to their questionings of agency in recent posthumanist discourses, plants demand that we think about living, being, and becoming in ways that interrupt anthropocentric, heteronormative figurings of agency, futurity, and life generally. This presentation will explore “botanical queerness” with an eye to thinking through the complexity of humans’ relations to plants beyond habitual modes of address. Plants are not simply objects of human concern; they offer up modes of being, becoming, and living that have been overlooked in more animal-centric accounts, and that point to a more queer and ecological understanding of life in relation to power.

Lunch will be provided at noon to those who RSVP in advance (http://grsj.arts.ubc.ca/events/event/botanically-queer_oct29_14/)

“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 oecologies.com or view the event poster. Also follow us on Twitter (@Oecologies) and “Like” us on Facebook (facebook.com/oecologies)! If you have other questions about Oecologies, please do not hesitate to contact me (nardizzi@mail.ubc.ca) or our assistant, Sarah Crover (sarah.crover@alumni.ubc.ca).

Wed Sept 24: Jeremy Davies, “Sustainability, Geohistory, and the Anthropocene Epoch,” Oecologies Speaker Series at Green College, UBC

Please join us for the first talk of the year in the Oecologies Speaker Series at Green College at UBC:

Dr. Jeremy Davies
(School of English, University of Leeds)
“Sustainability, Geohistory, and the Anthropocene Epoch,”
5-6:30 pm, Wed Sept 24, Coach House, Green College, UBC

Jeremy%20Davies%20-%20photo Summary: “Sustainability” is a longstanding desideratum in environmental politics. Recent years have seen much discussion of the idea that environmental upheavals mean the world is entering a new geological epoch, the “Anthropocene.” Those two notions—the ideal of sustainability and the proposal of the Anthropocene—offer sharply contrasting ways of imagining the current ecological crisis and possible responses to it. Both have significant antecedents in the earth sciences of the late eighteenth century. The former is typically attuned to the eighteenth century’s directional or cyclical theories of the earth; the latter is explicitly dependent upon the alternative historicist theories that came to prominence after the French Revolution. This talk will compare those ways of thinking about time and change in earth systems.

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 oecologies.com or view the event poster. Also follow us on Twitter (@Oecologies) and “Like” us on Facebook (facebook.com/oecologies)! If you have other questions about Oecologies, please do not hesitate to contact me (nardizzi@mail.ubc.ca) or our assistant, Sarah Crover (sarah.crover@alumni.ubc.ca).

Today! Louisa Mackenzie, “Don’t Panic: The Unknowability of Early Modern Nature,” Oecologies Speaker Series at Green College, UBC

Please join us for the sixth talk of the Oecologies Speaker Series at Green College at UBC!

Louisa Mackenzie
Dr. Louisa Mackenzie

(French and Italian Studies, University of Washington)
“Don’t Panic: The Unknowability of Early Modern Nature”
5-6:30pm, Wed Apr 30, Coach House, Green College, UBC

Abstract: Post-Romantic Anglophone ideals of nature include an absolute “beyond” of culture, including what we now call wilderness. Many scholars have started to question the assumptions that make these ideals thinkable. Mackenzie argues that early modern cultures can help us further these critiques. Working with texts from sixteenth-century France, she will show that early modern mentalities considered wildness to be not just frightening but literally unrepresentable. Wild areas inspired a kind of epistemological panic. This etymologically-understood “panic” (pertaining to Pan the god of wild places) perhaps invites us to a more humble appraisal of our cognition of the non-human.

Oecologies: Inhabiting Premodern Worlds is a new 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 oecologies.com or view the event poster. Also follow us on Twitter (@Oecologies) and “Like” us on Facebook (facebook.com/oecologies)! If you have questions about Oecologies, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Vin Nardizzi or the project assistant, Carmel Ohman.

Wed Apr 30: Louisa Mackenzie, “Don’t Panic: The Unknowability of Early Modern Nature,” Oecologies Speaker Series at Green College, UBC

Please join us for the sixth talk of the Oecologies Speaker Series at Green College at UBC!

Louisa Mackenzie
Dr. Louisa Mackenzie

(French and Italian Studies, University of Washington)
“Don’t Panic: The Unknowability of Early Modern Nature”
5-6:30pm, Wed Apr 30, Coach House, Green College, UBC

Abstract: Post-Romantic Anglophone ideals of nature include an absolute “beyond” of culture, including what we now call wilderness. Many scholars have started to question the assumptions that make these ideals thinkable. Mackenzie argues that early modern cultures can help us further these critiques. Working with texts from sixteenth-century France, she will show that early modern mentalities considered wildness to be not just frightening but literally unrepresentable. Wild areas inspired a kind of epistemological panic. This etymologically-understood “panic” (pertaining to Pan the god of wild places) perhaps invites us to a more humble appraisal of our cognition of the non-human.

Oecologies: Inhabiting Premodern Worlds is a new 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 oecologies.com or view the event poster. Also follow us on Twitter (@Oecologies) and “Like” us on Facebook (facebook.com/oecologies)! If you have questions about Oecologies, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Vin Nardizzi or the project assistant, Carmel Ohman.

Today at 5pm! Margaret Schabas, “European Concepts of Nature and Economic Growth in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries,” Oecologies Speaker Series at Green College, UBC

Please join us for the fifth talk of the Oecologies Speaker Series at Green College at UBC!

Margaret Schabas
Dr. Margaret Schabas

(Philosophy, University of British Columbia)
“European Concepts of Nature and Economic Growth in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries”
5-6:30pm, Wed Apr 16, Coach House, Green College, UBC

Abstract: In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the word ‘oeconomy’ was used to denote frugality in the management of one’s household. Only in rare instances was it conjoined with the state or polity. The concept of an economy as we know emerges only gradually, arguably by the early nineteenth century. Until then economic phenomena were studied as part of the natural order. This talk will trace the historical trajectory by which the economy as we now know it came into existence as a theoretical construct.

Oecologies: Inhabiting Premodern Worlds is a new 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 oecologies.com or view the event poster. Also follow us on Twitter (@Oecologies) and “Like” us on Facebook (facebook.com/oecologies)! If you have questions about Oecologies, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Vin Nardizzi or the project assistant, Carmel Ohman.