HOTB2020 Panel 2.2: Writing the Future



Panel 2.2: Writing the Future

“Practices of Hope: Building Creative Community in Ecopoetic Literary Production”

Petra Kuppers and DJ Lee (University of Michigan (Kuppers) and Washington State University (Lee))

“Making Sense of Climate Change: Stories From the AnthropoScenes Competition”

Alexandra Nikoleris, Johannes Stripple, Paul Tenngart, Ludwig Bengtsson-Sonesson (Lund University)

“Purposeful Memoir as a Path to a Thriving Future: The Worldwrights Lead the Way”

Jennifer Browdy (Bard College at Simon’s Rock)

Q & A

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8 replies
  1. Judith Wakeman says:

    Jennifer. Thankyou for your presentation full of optimism and hope. It is too easy too envisage a brink as something onerous and final, but it becomes a launch pad once we have discovered our wings. Purposeful memoir is something we can do for ourselves and for others at the same time. Thankyou again.

  2. Petra Kuppers says:

    Thank you, Alexandra Nikoleris, Johannes Stripple, Paul Tenngart, Ludwig Bengtsson-Sonesson and Jennifer Browdy, for your presentations. I appreciate hearing about the AnthropoScene’s editorial process: it mirrors some aspects of the questions DJ and I asked ourselves for the Practices of Hope issue ( We had lively discussions among the editorial team about the submissions we received (nearly 3000 individual pieces, which we eventually winnowed down to 73 contributors). Intriguingly, we found ourselves often drawn to surrealist stories, to the energy of language in interplay with the themes of particular pieces.
    Personally, with my creative writer hat, I think about some of the contradictions that emerge between realism and psychological truth-telling on the one hand, and surrealist/playful approaches to energy and connection on the other. As someone who writes in dark fantasy/horror genres, I am drawn to compression and transformation more than narrative resolution. Is that something you are finding at work in the material you edited (for the Lund team), or for the workshops you lead (Jennifer)? Craft approaches to pressure, condensation, explosion, transformation – a different kind of biomimicry?

    • Alexandra Nikoleris says:

      Thank you Petra and DJ for a very inspiring presentation! I hope I will be able to join one of your reading sessions. Surrealist stories were not very present in the entries to the AnthropoScenes competition, quite a few were different flavours of science fiction but most of them were in the tradition of realism. On the other hand narrative resolution was not necessarily there in many of the stories. For me, the openendedness was what really fascinated and stuck with me, the way it created space for thinking through what transformation, and with it loss and grief, means.

      Continuing this discussion on the potentiality of surrealist approaches, I’m curious to hear more about your thoughts on the contradictions that your think emerge, especially in relation to the states of emergency which are often met by downplaying them, if not right-out denying that they exist. (I’m thinking here, among other things, of the need that is sometimes felt by authors of fiction to substantiate their “truth-claims” when including e.g. facts on climate change in their novels.)

      • Lawrence Coates says:

        Hi, Alexandra … I’ve heard the word “ecofabulism” used to talk about works that incorporate surrealism with a sense of our precarious status in the Anthropocene.

    • Lawrence Coates says:

      I enjoyed the reading from the special issue of About Place. I found this panel late in the conference, but I wanted to mention that Panel 7.4, on *topias, is related. There are two presentations on Ursula K. Le Guin’s novel “Always Coming Home,” and two presentations on Cyberpunk. My presentation on Le Guin was inspired partly by a panel at the Davis ASLE conference entitled “We Need Utopian Cli Fi and We Need It Now.”

  3. Alexandra Nikoleris says:

    Thank you for your inspiring talks, Jennifer, DJ and Petra. To me, your two presentations are strongly linked through the ideas of building communities, or movements of change through storytelling, whether it is personal, speculative, fictional, or other (or rather linking all of these). In your work, how have you reflected on, and as convenors dealt with, the balance between the inclusion that is necessary for building communities (whether local or global) and the ever present risk (or is it unavoidable) of exclusion which happens in that very same process? I am thinking here specifically about how communities might be built (more effectively?) around the personal in relation to specific places, species, practices.

    Related, but a somewhat different topic for discussion I want to raise in relation to both your presentations is how we engage with the world around us through storytelling (if that is a fitting word for all that art). I was really enticed by the reading for the pussytoes card in the Prairie Divination Deck that Megan Kiminski and L. Ann Wheeler are working on. Though living on the other side of the Atlantic this is a spring flower that I strongly relate to. Strangely enough, I haven’t ever encountered (at least not that I am aware of) a flowering pussytoe ever in my life, but I know the name of this flower (a species on decline in all parts of Sweden except for the alpine areas in Sapmi where it’s existence seems stable) because of a well-known Swedish song which I sung often as a child. In the song, pussytoe (or kattfot as it is called in Swedish) is greeted as part of what makes spring joyous, together with other (Swedish) spring flowers such as common cowslip, meadow saxifrage, and blue violets. Having recently moved to a place where these species could potentially thrive I found myself having the urge this spring to actually see, smell and feel these flowers, not only sing about them. I have not yet found a pussytoe but have learnt that the older generation, especially farmers, often know where they can be found. To me this illustrates the way in which relationships to other species, and even ecosystems, can be created through poetry, art, stories. But also, that that kind of connection runs the risk (if it is a risk – what is your opinion of that?) of becoming “only” mythical, in the sense that the connection to the species itself is severed.

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