Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Rewilding... (?)

Did anyone else catch Elizabeth Kolbert's recent New Yorker article, "Recall of the Wild"?  It's fascinating stuff about creating these "new wildernesses" in Europe that are meant to replicate Pleistocene-era ecosystems.  Here's the abstract:

ABSTRACT:DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY about the Rewilding Europe movement. For most of the past several millennia, Flevoland, a province which sits more or less at the center of the Netherlands, lay at the bottom of an inlet of the North Sea. A massive drainage project in the nineteen-fifties allowed Flevoland to emerge out of the muck of the former seafloor. Now, Flevoland is home to the Oostvaardersplassen, a wilderness that was also constructed, Genesis-like, from the mud. The reserve occupies fifteen thousand almost perfectly flat acres, and biologists have stocked it with the sorts of animals that would have inhabited the region in prehistoric times, had it not at that point been underwater. In many cases, the animals had been exterminated, so they had to settle for the next best thing; for example, in place of the aurochs, a large and now extinct bovine, they brought in Heck cattle, a variety specially bred by Nazi scientists. The cattle grazed and multiplied, along with red deer, horses, foxes, geese, egrets, and other animals. With a certain amount of squinting, the herds of large mammals could be said to resemble the great migratory herds of Africa. Visitors now pay up to forty-five dollars each to take safari-like tours of the park. Such is the success of the Dutch experiment that it has inspired a new movement.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Morton on The Conversation

Our keynote speaker appeared in June on this awesome web series, explaining something of what he does:

See the original here.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Considering Dark Ecology

What is dark ecology?  Where does it happen within a broader ecological conversation?  Levi Bryant's thoughts in "Black Ecology: A Pessimistic Moment" might help (you can find the original here):

Perhaps I’m just having a dark moment right now, or perhaps this is what I really think. I’m not sure. Right now I’m in the process of working out my thoughts on black ecology for Jeffrey Cohen’s University of Minnesota Press collection entitled Prismatic Ecologies. To be honest, I’m still not entirely sure what I have in mind by a “black ecology”. I know some general outlines of the concept: 
     1) Being is radically a-teleological or without purpose.
     2) Life is no more privileged than inorganic matter within the order of being.
     3) Positive feedback phenomena (systems running out of control) are every bit as common      as negative feedback (systems that regulate themselves or strive for homeostasis).
     4) “Ecology” does not signify “nature” (or that which is outside of culture), but systems of interdependent relations.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Exploring Hyperobjects

Reading Jane Bennett's response to Tim Morton and Graham Harman in the recent OOO NLH, I stumbled across this illuminating micro-essay by Morton on hyperobjects at The Contemporary Condition.  It begins:

In the liner notes to Stop Making Sense, Talking Heads frontman David Byrne wrote “Nuclear weapons could wipe out life on Earth, if used properly.” The brilliant fake naivety of this seemingly obvious remark should make us pause. We have indeed created things that we can hardly understand, let alone control, let alone make sensible political decisions about. Sometimes it's good to have new words for these things, to remind you of how mind-blowing they are. So I'm going to introduce a new term: hyperobjects. Hyperobjects are phenomena such as radioactive materials and global warming. Hyperobjects stretch our ideas of time and space, since they far outlast most human time scales, or they're massively distributed in terrestrial space and so are unavailable to immediate experience. In this sense, hyperobjects are like those tubes of toothpaste that say they contain 10% extra: there's more to hyperobjects than ordinary objects...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

OO Art in NYC

If you're in New York these days, it might be worth checking out this, an exhibition and excursive program based on the work of Levi Bryant.  From their website:
Resonance at the Goethe-Institut Wyoming Building joins artwork and contributions by Agency, Diedrich Diederichsen, Faivovich & Goldberg, Anselm Franke, Christoph Keller, and weareQQ. This exhibition and discursive program, organized by curatorial officeRivet, engages with object-oriented thinking and probes a range of temporalities through a variety of contributions that give different formats of experience. 

Taking its key term from philosopher Levi BryantResonanceponders the specificities of change within systems and entities. The project suggests that viewers and participants pause and consider contemporary questions about interaction and autonomy, rights, and the relation between objects and environments. In its entirety,Resonance shows how understandings of community, ideology, law, and even the division between nature and culture become perturbed once the mark of distinction between subjects and objects is suspended. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

We're Up and Running!

Subject to Change: Nature, Text, and the Limits of the Human

The University of Virginia Department of English Graduate Conference
March 22-24, 2013

We invite you to join us as we explore the ontological, environmental, ethical, and literary implications of living in a world in which the primacy of the human has been called into question.  

What does it mean to read an object if we, too, are objects? Do inanimate subjects have a claim to the agency that humans have usually taken to be theirs alone? How are artists and scholars supposed to see into the life of things: the animal, the synthetic, the digital, the inert, the abject?  How do we read after nature, in a world of things?

Keynote Speech by Timothy Morton
A Roundtable Discussion with
Timothy Morton, and University of Virginia professors
Bruce Holsinger and Jennifer Wicke

Subjects (or is it objects?) of interest include, but are not limited to:

-Object-oriented ontology and the "democracy of objects"
-Whither the human?
-The anthropocene and anthropocentrism
-Nature and the unnatural
-Systems and ecosystems, digital and analog, network and wetwork
-Animism and a living world
-Environment and catastrophe

-Dark ecology and black ecology
-Speculative Realism
-Feminist and postcolonial possibilities after nature
-Translation and metaphor
-Textual history; books as physical objects
-Words for things/things for words
-Humanities without the human
-New ecology and community
-Ethics and bioethics in a posthuman world
-The limits of the body
-Conceptual art and L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry
-Natural supernaturalism

-Goethean science
-The sublime; Romanticism and its afterlife

This conference is interdisciplinary: We welcome submissions from a variety of fields.  Send an abstract (of up to 350 words) for your 15-minute presentation to, with your name and institutional affiliation.

Responses are due by November 30th, 2012.

Find more information, updates, and a growing forum on the nonhuman at

Timothy Morton is Rita Shea Guffey Chair of English at Rice University. He is the author of Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World (forthcoming), Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality (forthcoming), The Ecological Thought (2010), Ecology without Nature (2007), seven other books and eighty essays on philosophy, ecology, literature, food, and music.

Bruce Holsinger is Professor of English at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Neomedievalism, Neoconservatism, and the War on Terror (2007), The Premodern Condition (2005) and Music, Body, and Desire in Medieval Culture (2001).  His interests include Critical Theory and Medieval Literature.

Jennifer Wicke is Professor of English at the University of Virginia.  She is the author of Feminism and Postmodernism (1994) and Advertising Fictions: Literature, Advertisement, and Social Reading (1988).  Her interests include Critical Theory and 20th-Century Literature.