HOTB2020 Panel 7.5: Queer Ecologies & Ecosexualities



Panel 7.5: Queer Ecologies & Ecosexualities

“Queer Zombies and the Apocalypse of Man: Ecocriticism, Post-Feminism and Queer Theory in Recent German Literature and Film”

Eva Hoffmann (Whitman College)

“Queer Environmental Futures”

Sabine LeBel (University of New Brunswick, Fredericton)

“Can Truck Sluts Be Environmentalist?”

Nicholas Tyler Reich (Vanderbilt University)



Q & A

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19 replies
  1. Eva Hoffmann says:

    Hey Nicholas and Sabine,

    Thank you for sharing your work with me and each other for this panel!
    I am looking forward to listening to your presentations soon — I am in rural Ecuador and both Internet and childcare is rare right now. But I’ll carve out some time this week and also look forward to your comments and suggestions to my presentation, which is a work in progress and in an early stage.


    • Nicholas Reich says:

      Thanks, Eva, for reaching out and getting our Q&A started! You know, I had a hunch that this panel would be one of the most interesting, and I think I was right 🙂 🙂

      I’ve got some feedback and questions for both you (Eva) and Sabine below. Feel free to ask me anything, as well. I’m currently turning my presentation into an essay for publication. So, I’m pretty hungry for feedback. (Same goes for anyone else reading these comments.)


      Thanks for introducing me to Endzeit! My absolute favorite part of conferences is learning about primary sources that are new to me, and this one’s a real winner!!

      Your presentation is so full of compelling ideas and meaningful incorporation of scholarship. I’m particularly taken by how you’re reading Colebrook’s idea that “the Anthropocene seems to override” work in the humanities that focuses on diversity in human and more-than lifeways. This really puts ‘humanities on the brink’ in a particularly useful context for thinking about queerness, a sort of deep irony that I agree is spiraling in general Anthropocene conversations, especially the super popular stuff – almost like a scientistic conversation begun largely by cishet white men can’t by ‘nature’ account for these forms of difference……*scratching head* (For me, that’s why interventions like Black Anthropocene (Yusoff), Plantationocene, Gynocene, Capitalocene, etc. are so useful for expanding Anthropocene discourse.)

      I’m also really appreciating your read on Barounis’ “camp humorlessness.” In Bad Environmentalism (137-138), Nicole Seymour does something similar with Sontag’s distinctions between ‘pure Camp’ (that which is always naïve, unintentional, and ‘deadly serious’) and ‘deliberate Camp’ (that which knows that is it camp). Seymour “recognize[s] how significantly, and yet how tenuously, mainstream environmentalism discourse hinges on affective appeals.” In other words, with regard to your presentation, purportedly straight-shooting Anthropocene discourse and apocalyptic media can often manifest a kind of campiness totally unaware of itself, one that is ‘seriously’ humorless…except that folks like us might find it quite funny.

      How do you think we can take the analytical approach you’re crafting here and apply it to scholarship on the Anthropocene? In other words, how can this read on camp humorlessness be used for disciplinary analysis, to get at a deeper appreciation of difference within the universalizing Anthropocene of the Academy?

      (Also, “capitalism’s debris” is a fantastically appropriate phrasing.)



      First of all, I’m really loving that backdrop! What better way to discuss futurities than in front of a righteous metallic sheen? I’m also really happy to see these artworks you and your colleagues are creating for your queer environmental futures project. Thanks for sharing and helping us learn about these truly useful pedagogies for building queer environmental knowledges through art!

      Also, thank you for beginning your presentation in that situating of Blackness and Indigeneity. “Waves of apocalypse” sounds like a meaningful resonance with Eva’s presentation, which I would love for us to build on through this Q&A space.

      I’ve been re-reading Donna Haraway’s Staying with the Trouble this week. Her ideas on what she calls “kinnovations” in “queer, decolonial, and indigenous worlds” is resonating for me really strongly with the pedagogies you’re describing in your video. Her version of sympoiesis, or “symchthonic” kinships, articulates a “making-with” that sounds a lot like a community art project at times, at least on the human side of things (but possibly with more-than-human subjects, as well).

      Once you’ve seen my video, I’d really love to hear what you think about oily trans* futurities? Is it possible to graph the kinds of sympoiesis Haraway describes even with fossil fuels as a major part of the picture? At the end of the day, my presentation certainly isn’t pro-oil industry or even oil apologist. Yet, I’m definitely interested in broadening how oil figures into conversations precisely like the ones you and Haraway are having.

      Thanks to you both for these wonderful, thought-provoking videos!!!

      • Sabine LeBel says:

        Hello Nicholas,

        Thanks for the deep dive into our panel! Haraway’s work is definitely canonical to my project.

        I’m *loving* Truck Sluts and started following them on IG : ) I really appreciate the way that you’re valuing sexy, rural, queer aesthetics that are so often overlooked and definitely undervalued. I also appreciate the irreverent read on oil and the potential of oily trans futures. Maybe some connections to be made with the Q & A discussion yesterday with Kim Tallbear?

        All the best,

    • Sabine LeBel says:

      Hi Eva,

      Thanks for getting the conversation started!

      I really enjoyed your paper, especially situating feminist-queer-crip zombie stories against the apocalypse of “Man.” I especially appreciate being introduced to the “camp humourlessness” as an affective way to be open to anxiety and “bad feelings.” Seems particularly relevant in this particular moment.

      Looking forward to reading & watching Enzeit!

      All the best,

      • Eva Hoffmann says:

        Dear Sabine,
        Thanks for your feedback — I was finally able to listen to your presentation (my internet is spotty here). Thanks so much for sharing your projects, especially also for including some of the art work! I also loved the sounds the magic vagina makes. And I was curious to hear what you thought of the differences between the residency in person vs. the virtual format?
        All best,

  2. KATIE HOGAN says:

    Eva, Sabine, and Nicholas,
    Thank you for a great panel! I appreciate how each paper is different –affect, discipline, inter-discipline–yet resonant with the theme. Interesting and creative work.
    Kind regards,
    Katie Hogan

  3. KATIE HOGAN says:

    Thank you for your kind remarks! For your current project, you might want to read A Dirty South Manifesto: Sexual Resistance and Imagination in the New South by L.H. Stallings. Of course, you may have already read this book, but just in case you haven’t I wanted to bring it to your attention!

    Thanks again to Eva, Sabine, and you for a great panel–and, from what I can tell, the only designated queer panel?
    All best,

    • Nicholas Reich says:

      Thanks so much, Katie!

      I *literally* just got my copy of Dirty South Manifesto in the mail over the weekend, and I’m almost finished reading it already. It’s incredible. You’re totally right; it’s right in my neck of the geographical and ideological woods.

      Thanks so much for the recommendations!!


  4. Eva Hoffmann says:

    Thanks, Nick and Katie, for your time to listen and comment on the papers!

    Nick, I really enjoyed your paper on Truck Sluts! What a creative and thoughtful reading! I’m especially drawn to how you bring class into your paper — the critique of mainstream, middle-class environmental taste and the forms of alliances you see between rednecks and truck sluts!
    I am not sure if you are looking into more connections (your paper is so well-researched already!), but here are some that came to mind: Maria Lux, an artist at Whitman College, did a wonderful Zombie critique of middle-class environmental aestheticism and its righteousness. Also, for a primary text, Johanna Sinisalo’s novels might be worthwhile — she is a queer writer from Finland (her book Birdbrain comes particularly to mind). Astrieda Neimanis does wonderful work on toxic bodies of water and queer desire (I heard her talk on the Windemere Lake last year at a Sex and Nature conference in Exeter, UK). And you are probably familiar with Joanna Zylinska, whose “End of Man” (and her film “Exit Man”) is really fantastic.

    I am still thinking about the idea to not just focus on disaster … and was also wondering how trauma and reclaiming / reparation of spaces features into your reading of truck sluts. I am thinking particularly of the violence against queer people in rural areas (even though you are pushing against this limited readings of “neophobia”) and the role trucks often played into this violence.

    Thanks so much also for your thoughtful responses to my paper! And for raising the question on scholarship … I think you gave part of my answer when you pointed to the interventions like Yussuf’s Black Anthropocene etc. Carlen Lavigne’s new book on Patriarchal Apocalypses comes to mind, too.

    Sabine — I am looking forward to hearing your paper in the next few days (I am with limited internet connection right now).

    • Nicholas Reich says:

      Thanks so much for these recommendations, Eva! I’m going to order Birdbrain right away!

      You’re right that I’m knowingly avoiding a negativity read. Queer and trans folks from the US Southeast, where I’m from, will have their own histories of the working truck and the violences (social, cultural, political, and ecological) often associated with that machine type, as will people from other ‘regions’ or spaces. Yet, even though my motivation lies more in the broader reclamation of oil as potentially sexy material, you’re so very right that there is a powerful story here about land and body reclamation, specifically in the way of queer/trans experience.

      Thanks for that feedback!!

  5. Kim Richards says:

    Nicholas, this is such a rich and provocative paper. Thank you for drawing my attention to this glorious archive, which I have now subscribed to and shared with a number of friends and colleagues. There is so much more work to be done on petro-sexualities; queer Appalachia seems to be a very generative spot for this work. Part of what is useful about Truck Sluts is that it is not tied to resource frontiers.

    The provocations the paper raises around the queer futurities of bad environmentalisms are so provocative, and I wonder if and how you would consider them in relation to activism and movement building? What are the embodied, politicized horizons of this critique? (Or does such a question come into tension with the queer refusal of reproducibility/productivity that you are getting at)? How are you thinking about the Instagram form which prescripts and delimits through its template, imposes certain (now) hegemonic forms of aesthetic production, and social assembly and relationality, and also enables and visualizes certain kinds of collective assembly and social work?

    I appreciate the deep critique of mainstream environmentalist taste and the point about how the focus on disaster does not lead to full knowledges. It seems to me that some of the petrocultural work vis-à-vis Sheena Wilson, Imre Szeman, Stephanie LeMenager, etc. has been geared towards the creation of knowledge about petrocultures with an awareness of the impending energy transition and/or ecological collapse, but we could debate how politicized these forms of critique are. I would be interested in hearing more about your thinking about the function of critique – especially in relation to how you are thinking about queer failure and bad environmentalism.

    • Nicholas Reich says:

      Wow, Kim, thanks so much for this thoughtful response! Your ideas and questions are really helping me think this through, for which I am very grateful.

      Instagram as a ‘platform’ is so totally confusing. What I didn’t dwell on in my presentation is the frequency with which the Truck Sluts account is policed according to vague (and often arbitrary) Insta policies regarding bodies, nudity, suggestive behavior, etc. This is partly why the account bio begins with the hashtags #nojabronis #nocops #t4t #gonecuntry, as a way of establishing expectations for gazing and participating. On top of this, there’s also the ‘problem’ of the fluidity of the archive, which is a level of media studies I’m only just beginning to understand (as it’s changing fast and hard, too).

      In the way of activism, I’m (sort of) dodging that expectation precisely by pointing out the ways in which environmental activism is often cisheteronormative. From my view, the destabilizing going on in Truck Sluts regarding petro-sexual energies and vexed fossil-fuel relations is its own belowground activism, in that it challenges ideological/activist status quo. But I also think you’re right to look for more explicit connections between this sort of critique and the fossil-fuel resistances you discuss in your work. I’m not sure I have answers, but it’s definitely something I’m considering in the longer version of the presentation. As Katie Hogan points out above, Stallings’ Dirty South Manifesto is a great resource for thinking through this sort of sexual resistance.

      Also, Zoltan Grossman’s book Unlikely Alliances (link for those unfamiliar: is a fantastic resource for the kinds of questions you’re asking, particularly if put in conversation with queer/trans rural studies.

      • Kim Richards says:

        Thanks, NIc. I am also excited about seeing how this develops and where it is published, especially the kinds of tensions between what Truck Sluts refuses in terms of certain kinds of ideological and activist status quos and what is along a continuum through enacting its politics through embodied forms with a set of props (trucks), costumes/aesthetics, near repertoire of gestures/poses, etc. I’m enjoying continuing to think about this question.

  6. Davy Knittle says:

    Eva, Nicholas, and Sabine,

    Thanks so much for these papers, and for the friendly and substantive discussion in which y’all have been engaging in the comments for this panel throughout the conference. I really appreciate the work that each of these papers do — and the work they do together — and I’m glad to see this space devoted to queer/trans/gnc environmentalist approaches.

    Eva – I love how you frame your argument by asking us to think with Sylvia Wynter’s engagement with the paradigm of “Man” as we might extend Wynter’s analysis to the environmental humanities. You ask us to address how a “feminist counter-apocalypse” might offer a coalition politics of thinking about relations between how queer, trans, Black and Brown people are variously and unevenly dispossessed by white cis-heterosexual futurities. You argue of Vieweg’s Endzeit that one of her provocations is that a feminist counter-apocalypse requires a willingness to have more flexible sense of self that is integral to negotiating climate crisis. You mention crip theory as an intertext – I’d love to know more about how a crip approach to questions of flexibility on the scale of the individual help imagine what a social and ecological framework that anticipated a flexibility of selfhood (as a refusal of white cis-heterosexuality) might be like.

    Sabine — Echoing Nicholas’s response to your paper, I found so helpful your framing of impossible futurities as a way of linking together uneven planetary futures shaped by ongoing climate crises and the quotidian life of many LGBTQIATS young people. You draw on the work of Muñoz and others in thinking about how art making can offer alternate ways of thinking about futurity that decouples the future from cis-heteronormative progress. In dialogue with that, I’d love to ask about the tools that “queer” offers for thinking through and pulling apart the “impossibility” of climate futures. How does queer as an environmental approach help negotiate the relationship between how climate futures foreclose a white cis-heteronormative paradigm of futurity premised upon the eternal and the endlessly expansive and consumable, while also engaging seriously with how environmental harm disproportionately affects Black and Brown people? What kind of granularity or detail does “queer” give us for the project of describing environmental change and imagining social and planetary futures, as well as personal ones?

    Nicholas – I’m so excited by your reading of “Truck Sluts” and your in-depth engagement with queer/trans/gnc rural life in the U.S. Southeast. Your reading of a number of the “Truck Sluts” posts as an opportunity to expand upon the textures of queer/trans/gnc rural life in opposition to metronormativity put me in mind of Scott Herring’s qualification in Another Country that “There’s a world of difference between living in a city and living in a world of metronormativity, and the two need not go hand in hand.” In thinking about your generative question on my own paper, I wanted to ask you about the potential for queer/trans non-metronormative coalitions between the rural spaces of Truck Sluts and the non-metronormative city of variously residential, and disinvested urban neighborhoods. I’m interested in particular in how your environmentalist reading of “Truck Sluts” opens up some of those connections through, perhaps, through your trans-corporeal reading of truck-human relations that might also describe relations to oil in bodily experiences of living near an expressway, or a waste disposal site, or processing or shipping facility in urban space. What, in other words, might a non-metronormative oily trans environmentalism be like?

    Thanks to all of you for these excellent papers, and for opening such a generative space for discussion!

    • Nicholas Reich says:

      Davy, these are super helpful questions and responses. Regarding my own presentation, I’m particularly struck with these last couple sentences: “I’m interested in…relations to oil in bodily experiences of living near an expressway, or a waste disposal site, or processing or shipping facility in urban space. What, in other words, might a non-metronormative oily trans environmentalism be like?”

      Thanks for bringing up Herring’s insightful caveat. Such an important idea for thinking through coalitional approaches for something like an environmentalist activism.

      I will let these ideas stew a bit! I can already see how this Q&A is helping my expansion of this presentation, and that makes me very grateful!! Thanks for participating, and thanks for your beautiful presentation, as well.

  7. nseymour says:

    Amazing panel!!! <3 I appreciated the aesthetics of the presentations themselves, as well as the primary texts. Nick, I'm eager to see this work in print. My only feedback would be to more explicitly acknowledge that tricky slippage between "trans" as in "trans-corporeal" and trans as in "trans*" (gender, sexual, etc.). I also want to know more about "Truck Sluts"'s readership/following. (P.S. I knew Tiffany St. Bunny briefly in another lifetime. Small world!)

    • Nicholas Reich says:

      Thanks so much, Nicole, for this feedback! In the essay version of this presentation, I’m trying to articulate a multi-valent t4t project happening in this zine (trans-for-trans, trans-for-trucks, trans-for-trans*) that I think is (sort of) addressing this slippage between trans and the more expansive trans* (which I’m also pushing into Alaimo’s territory). But I think you’re right; I need to be more forthright about the *possible* overlap.

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