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Aesthetics in the Anthropocene

Aesthetics in the Anthropocene - call for papers

10-11 April | University of Sussex
This is a two-day event which forms part of the Critical Points week organized by the University of Sussex on 9-13 April 2018.

‘Aesthesis’ in its primary sense means ‘sensation’. It is an embodied perception of an environment – all that surrounds us. In our current historical moment in which climate change has arisen as the most pressing and seemingly insurmountable global issue, bodily apprehension seems to fall short of providing an adequate response to the crisis. However, recent turns in the creative arts have asserted the importance of reacquainting ourselves, not just intellectually but bodily and imaginatively, with the non-human other upon which our own survival depends; and relatedly, philosophy and criticism have placed new emphases on the material constructions of life and matter, in order to challenge an outdated subject/object binary between human and non-human.

This training event will explore how the humanities engages with the concepts of aesthesis/aesthetics in the Anthropocene. As such, the training event has two principal aims: to develop participants’ understanding of the historical relationship between ecology and aesthetics; and to identify new methodologies for writing critically about ecology, the non-human, and environment.

+ Call for papers

We are looking for papers from across the humanities which address environmental issues through critical engagement with art objects, physical environments, and/or aesthetics. We also welcome papers from science researchers, which could help inform and reshape ecological research within humanities scholarship. Topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • Representations of environment/non-human life in literature, art, visual culture, film, theatre, and the media
  • The historical relationship between philosophical aesthetics, materiality, and the non-human
  • Theories of embodiment and consciousness
  • Feminist perspectives on ecology and aesthetics
  • Human/animal relations
  • Artistic responses to climate change
  • Queer ecology
  • Concepts of environment and aesthetic perception in postcolonial and/or critical race theory
  • Representation and understanding of natural disasters
  • Technological and/or imaginative modes of apprehending the non-human
  • Innovative ways to address environmental issues within humanities research

Please send a short abstract (200-300 words) for a 20 minute paper to Matthew McConkey (mm858@sussex.ac.uk), or Emilia Czątkowska (ec476@kent.ac.uk) by 16 March 2018.

+ Event information

This is a two-day event which forms part of the Critical Points week organized by the University of Sussex on 9-13 April 2018. During the first day (10 April), participants will present their papers in panel discussion. This will be followed by a keynote address from Dr Jonathan Skinner (University of Warwick), founder and editor of ecopoetics, a journal which features creative-critical intersec-tions between writing and ecology.

The second day (11 April) will begin with a workshop hosted by the School of Life Sciences at Sus-sex, focusing on the relationship between aesthetics and scientific ecology, with a particular em-phasis on technological modes of perception and representation. During lunch there will be an in-formation session on publishing interdisciplinary research with Dr Michael Jonik, Special Issues edi-tor of Textual Practice. This will be followed by a ‘walkshop’ — an exploration of Sussex campus and the South Downs National Park beside the University — where participants will embody the concerns of the panel section by discussing their ideas in a non-institutional green environment. The principal event of the day will be the School of English Colloquium given by Tim Gallagher (Sky News) and Adam Vaughan (The Guardian).

Although primarily aimed at CHASE students, we hope that this event will bring together research-ers from diverse fields including English, Philosophy, Film Studies and Life Sciences, in order to take an interdisciplinary approach to climate change and to ask what the role of aesthetics might be in our responses to it. Participants are not required to give a paper, but we encourage submissions from researchers addressing environmental issues through critical engagement with art objects and/or aesthetics. We also welcome papers from science researchers, which could help inform and reshape ecological research within humanities scholarship.

Please see the Call For Papers above for further information. Please contact Matthew McConkey (mm858@sussex.ac.uk), or Emilia Czątkowska (ec476@kent.ac.uk) if you have any queries.

Please use the form below to register for the event.


The following groups are eligible to attend the training

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