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2013, Sun, Jan 13

Storytelling in the Anthropocene

Impulse by Kodwo Eshun (Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, University of London). Response: Ursula K. Heise (Institute of Environment and Sustainability, University of California, Los Angeles), Claire Colebrook (Department of English, Penn State University, University Park), Xavier Le Roy (performance artist, Montpellier), Daniel Rosenberg (Department of History, University of Oregon, Eugene), Jan Zalasiewicz (Department of Geology, University of Leicester). Moderation: Christof Mauch (Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, München)


Considering the role of narrative within the Anthropocene thesis, this roundtable asks: what stories – whether fact, fiction, revelation, mythology or history – are told, may be possible, or have yet to be imagined in an Anthropocenic world? What inscriptive qualities characterize Anthropocenic historiography? No story is complete without its author, begging the question: who tells the tale, who speaks and who listens? To what degree are the sciences and humanities self-reflexively engaged with their own storytelling capabilities as co-authors of reality? Science fiction as a literary genre seems to re-emerge within and through the Anthropocene discussion. How can a yet-to-be articulated Anthropocenic research be affected by its own proposed set of “science fictions,” contributing to trans-disciplinary narrative-weaving, literary rumination, and poetic exploration?

Claire Colebrook (University Park, PA)is professor of English at Penn State University. Her areas of specialization are contemporary literature, visual culture, and theory and cultural studies. She has written articles on poetry, literary theory, queer theory, and contemporary culture. She is the editor of the book "Extinction" published in 2012 as well as co-editor of the Series "Critical Climate Change" and member of the advisory board of the Institute for Critical Climate Change.


Kodwo Eshun (London) is a theorist and artist. His writing deals with the histories of science fiction, electronic music, futurity and Tricontinentalism. In 2002, he co-founded The Otolith Group, an award winning artist-collective that integrates film and video making, artists’ writing, workshops, exhibition curation, publication and developing public platforms forthe close readings of the image in contemporary society.


Ursula K. Heise (Los Angeles) is professor of English at uClA and a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow. Her research and teaching focus on contemporary literature, environmental culture in the Americas, Western Europe and Japan, the environmental humanities, and on theories of modernization and globalization in their cultural dimensions. Her books include "Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global" (2008), and "Nach der Natur: Das Artensterben und die moderne Kultur" (2010).


Xavier le Roy (France) holds a doctorate in molecular biology from université Montpellier, and has worked as a dancer and choreographer since 1991. Since 2004, he is involved in various educational programs. His works emerge out of experiments aiming to produce experiences that challenge the distribution of the visible, the hearable and the sayable. His latest workRetrospective was developed in 2012 at Fundació Tapiès in Barcelona.


Christof Mauch (Munich) is director of the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society and Professor of American cultural history (currently on leave) at Ludwig-Maximilian-Universität Munich. Prior to that he was director of the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C. An expert in U.S. History, transatlantic relations, and international history, Mauch has written or edited about forty books, some of them award winning. He is currently president of the European Society for Environmental History.


Jan Zalasiewicz (Leicester) is a senior lecturer in geology at the university of Leicester, UK, and member of the Stratigraphy Commission of the Geological Society, London,a body of scientists which has been notably involved in analyzing the Anthropocene phenomenon. He teaches various aspects of geology and earth history and is a researcher into fossil ecosystems and environments across over half a billion years of geological time.


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