“A Blink of an Eye in the History of the Universe”: An Interview with Cary Wolfe

29.2 Perspectives on the Anthropocene

Conducted by Gry Ulstein (GU) and Niels Springveld (NS)

From 8 to 10 June 2016, Cary Wolfe (CW) visited Utrecht University, leading a Q&A on interdisciplinary animal studies, hosting a masterclass, and delivering a public lecture titled “(Auto)Immunity, (Bio)Politics, and Posthumanist Social Theory.” Frame‘s time with Prof. Wolfe was short, and we had agreed upon approximately seven minutes per question beforehand.

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December 1st, 2018

Ben de Bruyn | Learning to Be a Species in the Anthropocene: On Annie Proulx’s Barkskins

29.2 Perspectives on the Anthropocene

Abstract

This paper examines how contemporary literary fiction responds to the climate crisis and the attendant call for a seemingly universalist “species view” of human beings. What does it mean to think of the human as a species, how can we find traces of species being in literature, and how do they interact with other dimensions of human lives? To address these questions, the paper confronts recent accounts of historical context, animal characters, and capitalist time with Annie Proulx’s Barkskins (2016). As this confrontation shows, Proulx’s novel teaches its readers to be a species— without ignoring differences of race, class, and gender.

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December 7th, 2016

Anna Volkmar | Ironic Encounters in the Anthropocene: Jürgen Nefzger’s Nuclear Landscape Photography

29.2 Perspectives on the Anthropocene

Abstract

In this article, I explore the question of how art may help us to map and, indeed, inhabit the problematic subject position that the Anthropocene confronts us with. I focus on the landscape photography collected in Jürgen Nefzger’s Fluffy Clouds (2010) and its use of irony to obstruct the power dynamics at work in traditional landscape aesthetics. I suggest that Fluffy Clouds helps us to think subjectivity in the Anthropocene from a non-unitary position, i.e. a position that is not based on notions of individuality and identity, but is by default relational. My reading will be helped by Ernst van Alphen’s interpretation of perspective as a subject-constituting device and Paul de Man’s notion of the twofold, ironic self.

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December 7th, 2016

Rosi Braidotti | Anthropos Redux: A Defence of Monism in the Anthropocene Epoch

29.2 Perspectives on the Anthropocene

Abstract

This essay starts from the assumption that the historical situation of today is unprecedented in ecological, economic, sociopolitical, as well as affective terms. The era known as the Anthropocene requires new ways of thinking in order to account for new practices and discourses related to this situation. By offering a defence of Spinozist monism, this essay attempts to strike a critical balance between new and internally contradictory contemporary concerns, such as the fast technological developments on the one hand and the perpetuation of more familiar patterns of oppression, like structural economic inequalities, on the other. Both aspects of the present predicament will receive critical attention in the cartography of the Anthropocenic era that I will discuss here and which I read in terms of the posthuman condition.

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December 7th, 2016

Lawrence Buell | Anthropocene Panic: Contemporary Ecocriticism and the Issue of Human Numbers

29.2 Perspectives on the Anthropocene

Abstract

Environmental humanists rightly believe they have valuable contributions to make to rethinking and redressing Anthropocene Age excess. Ecocriticism’s recent maturation as an interdiscipline has put it in a stronger position to do so than ever before. Its “material” turn in the 2000s bears this out up to a point, but its interventions also seem somewhat self-limiting. This essay argues that ecocritics and environmental humanists more generally have foregone a promising opportunity by avoiding the controversial issue of unsustainable human population growth as a sociohistorical phenomenon and an impetus to creative imagination.

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December 7th, 2016