The Oecologies Research Group is excited to announce an upcoming two-day, international, and multi-institutional conference: “Oecologies: engaging the world, from here.” It will take place from 1-3 October 2015 at Harbour Centre (Simon Fraser University) in downtown Vancouver.
Participants include an international roster of established scholars as well as local university faculty and graduate students who specialize in literature before 1700. The conference explores how the premodern continues to press upon the present. In particular, it asks how the theoretical dilemmas of place and identity that generally inform ecocriticism and the Humanities’ engagement with the environment might have roots within the premodern. Transhistorical in scope and multi-continental in composition (speakers hail from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America), the conference takes literally the mandate to “engage the world” (SFU’s brand) from a particular locale, “from here” (UBC’s former brand). The conference will query the tension between parts of the environmental movement summarized as its cultural or “human dimension”—its literature and stories—and ecological crisis. The conversations thus begin in a common literature, but expand to examine how different, and modern, locales shape our perception of the premodern literary past.
The conference draws inspiration from our keynote speaker, Ursula K. Heise, Professor of English and faculty member of UCLA’s (University of California, Los Angeles) Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (IoES). In Sense of Place and Sense of Planet (2008), Heise traces the fraught relation between “ecolocalism” and the idea of the global in environmentalist advocacies from the mid-twentieth century to the present moment. Our contributors will bear in mind Heise’s call for an “eco-cosmopolitanism,” which aims to articulate “ways of imagining the global that frame localism from a globalist environmental perspective,” even as they add further historical depth to the environmental history that Heise outlines.