Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Ecocritical Update

Ogunquit beach, not long after sunset
by J J Cohen

[please read the guest post by Michael Johnston and Alex Mueller on rethinking the format of book reviews first -- it is SO GOOD.]

Hello everyone, I'm just back from Maine with stone, sea and briny breezes on my mind as the semester looms. Here are a few updates and links related to ecocriticism that have come my way in the past week. Some are medieval, some are not, and all (I hope) are worth your time. I hope that the fall semester is off to a good start for all who have in fact already started.

The latest issue of PMLA includes the special cluster that Stephanie LeMenager and I co-edited on "Assembling the Ecological Digital Humanities" (which we wanted to designate EcoDH, but oh those PMLA copyeditors). The pieces that were contributed are all very good: Joni Adamson on "Networking Networks and Constellating New Practices in the Environmental Humanities"; Allison Carruth on "Ecological Media Studies and the Matter of Digital Technologies"; Siobhan Senier on "Dawnland Voices 2.0: Sovereignty and Sustainability Online"; and Nicole Starosielski on "Resource Operations of the Ecological Digital Humanities." Medievalists will be especially interested in the short essays by Jonathan Hsy ("Language Ecologies: Ethics, Community, and Digital Affect"), A. R. Bennett ("The Ecology of Art-iculation and Aggregate Reading"), and Emily Lethbridge and Steven Hartman ("Inscribing Environmental Memory in the Icelandic Sagas and the Icelandic Saga Map"). You may download the introduction here if you wish.

An exhibition at the Walters Museum of Art in Baltimore examines medieval recycling. Lori Talcott has an exhibit at the Bellevue Art Museum Biennial called Conjugation that riffs on the medieval idea of the heart as a book. If you are in NYC, I will be speaking at "The Keeper" exhibit at the New Museum on Thursday Sept. 1.

Although I've often taught courses that combine medieval literature and ecocriticism (opening myself to the charge of anachronism that Alex and Michael so deftly refute: what a block to thinking such charges erect), I have never done a straightforward ecocriticism course before. That changes this year, when I offer a graduate seminar on the topic, structured around the theme of Noah's arkive. Syllabus is here; let me know what you think. And I am always collecting Noah stories: if you come across one you think I may not have, please send it my way!

Last, two things about Stone: An Ecology of the Inhuman, my own small attempt to imagine an ecocritical Middle Ages. You can find a short interview about the book at the University of Wisconsin Press blog, as a preface to Paul Harris's thorough review of Stone in the latest issue of SubStance. The book was also just reviewed by archeologist Lesley McFadyen for TMR, quite an intriguing experience from which I learned a great deal for future projects. And if you haven't seen it before, a modified section of the first chapter was published a while back in continent: it's yours to access and share.

And now to obsess about the first day of class, and plan what to do during my scheduled bouts of weekend insomnia.

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