Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, UCSB
2014-2015 Theme for the EHI
The Anthropocene is the 2014-2015 theme for both UCSB’s Environmental Humanities Initiative (EHI) and our Interdisciplinary Humanities Center (IHC). The IHC’s public events series, The Anthropocene: Views from the Humanities, explores this time of significant biospheric human influence, with the aim of bringing into focus the challenges that now confront the planet and its inhabitants through the unique, critical perspectives afforded by the humanities and fine arts.
Should We Welcome the Anthropocene?
Ken Hiltner (English and Environmental Studies, EHI Director, UCSB), Thursday, October 30, 2014
Our planet is being impacted on a global scale by a range of human activities. With this realization, comes another: we have arguably entered a new geological era dominated by human beings, the Anthropocene. While it is often suggested that we should recoil from the Anthropocene and attempt to return the planet to a state comparable to what it was before widescale anthropogenic change, in this provocative talk EHC Director Ken Hiltner asks whether we should instead welcome the Anthropocene (more).
The Anthropocene: A New Epoch of Thought?
Kathryn Yusoff (Human Geography, Queen Mary University of London), Tuesday, November 4, 2014
The Anthropocene is the informal geologic chronological term that serves as a material (and perhaps metaphysical) marker for human impacts on earth forces. While the Anthropocene might not be a proper name for this epoch, it does nominate a threshold moment that signals the demise of the stable environmental conditions of the Holocene that provided the context for Western thought (more).
Charting a ‘Good’ Path in a Turbulent Age
Andrew Revkin (The New York Times), Tuesday, November 13, 2014
The environmental movement has long been built around two themes – “woe is me” and “shame on you.” But in the age of global human influence, the Anthropocene, that approach ends up resembling a circular firing squad. Is the palm oil developer the villain, or the person buying the KitKat bar or “green” biodiesel fuel derived from palm nuts? Andrew Revkin, building on more than 30 years of environmental reporting, outlines a fresh approach to fostering durable progress on a complex, turbulent planet (more).
Balancing on a Planet: Can Local Food Improve Health, Increase Equity, and Slow Global Warming?
David A. Cleveland (Environmental Studies, UCSB), Tuesday, November 18, 2014
One of the biggest challenges we face is fixing our global food system—although it feeds us, it contributes much to sickness, hunger and climate change. The cause of this is a supply-side strategy that emphasizes increasing production and economic growth. Localizing the food system is a popular solution—but can it deliver? (more)
Sponsored by the UCSB Library’s Pacific Views Speaker Series, the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor, and the IHC.
Into the Bowels of the Anthropocene: Excrement and the Current Ecological Crisis
Nicholas C. Kawa (Anthropology, Ball State University), Thursday, November 20, 2014
The origins of the Anthropocene are typically traced to the Industrial Revolution, a period that led to drastic alteration of the Earth’s climate and bio-physical environment. However, another significant development occurred at the time, one that is overlooked by geologists and climate scientists: the widespread institution of the private flush toilet. With the ability to carry human excrement out of sight, the modern toilet has perpetuated the illusion that our waste can be made to disappear.
Problems with the Anthropocene: A View from Rural Amazonia
Nicholas C. Kawa (Anthropology, Ball State University), Friday, November 21, 2014
Drawing from ethnographic research in Brazilian Amazonia, this presentation actively questions the conceptual foundations of the Anthropocene and how it frames human history and human relationships to the environment.
High and Dry: On Deserts and “Crisis”
’Dick Hebdige (Film & Media Studies & Studio Art, UCSB), Thursday, December 4, 2014
The body in the swimming pool as metonym for trouble in paradise is a recurrent motif bordering on cliché in Hollywood/ West Coast sunshine noir. As California contends with its severest drought in the state’s recorded rainfall history and intimations of apocalypse proliferate, the trope becomes especially ominous and loaded. This talk poses questions about human agency and environmental blowback against the backdrop of the desert as a staging ground for rehearsals for the end of the world.
Roundtable: Natural Capital
Speakers: Peter Alagona (History and Environmental Studies, UCSB), Sarah Anderson (Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, UCSB), Ken Hiltner (English and Environmental Studies, UCSB), Sharyn Main (Santa Barbara Foundation), Richard Widick (Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, UCSB), Facilitator: Elizabeth Heckendorn Cook (English and Comparative Literature, UCSB), Thursday, January 22, 2015.
This pluri-disciplinary roundtable examines how the idea of natural capital is shaping our relations to the environment.
Reading: On Streaming
Allison Adelle Hedge Coke (poet, winner of the American Book Award), Thursday, January 29, 2015
Allison Adelle Hedge Coke is an American Book Award-winning poet and the author of Dog Road Woman, Off-Season City Pipe, Blood Run, and Burn, as well as a memoir, Rock Ghost, Willow, Deer. She is the editor of the anthologies Sing: Poetry of the Indigenous Americas, Effigies and Effigies II and currently serves as a Distinguished Writer at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.
Dialogue With Water
Wang Shu (China Academy of Art, winner of the Pritzker Prize) Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Wang Shu writes: “My architectural designs always come from some kind of memory, memories that are related to some place, an event that sparked some kind of feeling, or a visual impression of some happening or object. When I consider these things retrospectively, these stimuli always have something to do with water. This is hardly strange, because where I live water is a natural element and is everywhere. Architecturally speaking, in my work particular climatic considerations, ambience, application of materials, and aesthetics, are all determined by water.”
Drawing the End of our World: Comics, Climate Change and Pizzly Bears
Andy Warner (comics journalist) Thursday, February 5, 2015
The comics medium is graphically able to represent the complex and unexpected effects humans have on natural systems, such as how a warming climate can actually mean bigger snowstorms, how escaping exotic pets can cause an ecosystem to crash, and the strange sponge-like effect Australia has on rising sea levels. It’s a great tool for understanding what our effect on the world is now, and what’s to come.
The Penumbra Falls: Thinking about the Potential Near-future of the Anthropocene
Erik M. Conway (historian, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory) Thursday, February 12, 2015
In their new book, The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future, Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway explore the coming of the Penumbra, the shadow of doubt and denial about environmental and climate challenges spread by corporations, politicians, and even some scientists. Conway’s talk is a mixture of fact and fiction, telling a story about one possible future for humanity should we continue the high-emissions lifestyle that has characterized the 21st century.
Conservation, De-extinction, and the Future of Life
Oliver A. Ryder (Director of the Frozen Zoo project and Kleberg Chair at the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research)
Thursday, April 2, 2015
Dr. Oliver A. Ryder is Director of Genetics and holds the Kleberg Chair at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. He oversees a highly productive laboratory group that includes activities in the areas of molecular genetics, cytogenetics, cell culture, and tissue culture cryobanking. He directs the Frozen Zoo® project, a unique resource of cell cultures that has made notable scientific contributions in the field of conservation and other biological disciplines.
Urban Ecology and the Imagination of the Future
Ursula Heise (English, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, UCLA) Thursday, April 23, 2015
In the early twenty-first century, the majority of the global human population lives in cities. Future population growth will occur mostly in cities. This shift challenges conventional forms of environmental imagination with their focus on wild and rural habitats. The lecture will explore how urbanization functions as a specific dimension of the Anthropocene, and how narrative fiction – especially science fiction – and poetry might help us re-envision the boundary that has traditionally separated urban from natural spaces.
Tim Morton (English, Rice University) Thursday, May 7, 2015.
Keynote speaker to the IHC’s Conference: Approaching the Anthropocene: Perspectives from the Humanities and Fine Arts. Morton is the the Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English at Rice University. Morton’s publications include Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World (Minnesota, 2013), The Ecological Thought (Harvard UP, 2010), and Ecology without Nature (Harvard, 2007). Morton’s blog is ecologywithoutnature.
Lithorature and Other Anthropocenic Mutations
Jason Groves (German, Rutgers University), Thursday, May 21, 2015
This talk explores how, since around 1800, literature has offered imaginative ways of relating to the lithosphere beyond extraction and other destructive petrofictions.
Taking Stock of the Anthropocene: An Interdisciplinary Roundtable with UCSB Scholars
Thursday, May 28, 2015.
Peter Alagona (History and Environmental Studies, UCSB), Elizabeth Heckendorn Cook (English and Comparative Literature, UCSB), John Foran (Sociology, UCSB), Ken Hiltner (English and Environmental Studies, UCSB), Jeff Hoelle (Anthropology, UCSB), David Lea (Geology, USCB), Christopher Walker (English, UCSB)
Music of the Anthropocene
John Luther Adams (composer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Become Ocean), Thursday, June 4, 2015
Called “one of the most original musical thinkers of the new century” (Alex Ross, The New Yorker), John Luther Adams is a composer whose life and work are deeply rooted in the natural world. Adams composes for orchestra, chamber ensembles, percussion and electronic media. A recipient of the Heinz Award for his contributions to raising environmental awareness, Adams has also been honored with the Nemmers Prize from Northwestern University.