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The Poetics and Politics of Eco-Cosmopolitanism in Contemporary World Literature

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Organizer: Deniz Gundogan Ibrisim

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In the light of the material turn in the humanities and social sciences, there has been an increasing interest in material contexts, embodied experiences, and situated forms of knowledge. In this context, Ursula K. Heise emphasizes the urgency of developing an ideal of “eco-cosmopolitanism,” or environmental world citizenship, observing that “it is imperative to reorient current U.S. environmentalist discourse, ecocriticism included, toward a more nuanced understanding of how both local cultural and ecological systems are imbricated in global ones” (2008, 59). Heise’s remark envisions individuals and groups as a part of planetary “imagined communities,” with both human and nonhuman members. Patrick Hayden’s similar notion of “world environment citizenship” is also commited to an ethical concern with the social, political, and economic problems associated with the environment and humanity’s dependence on it. Concerning the notion of “eco,” the cosmopolitical proposal, as introduced by Isabelle Stengers rejects any relationship with the Kantian notion of cosmopolitanism. Stengers does not present “a good common world”, but seeks to slow down the construction of “the common,” by creating a space for hesitation – an interstice where concepts such as good and common can be reshuffled, reexamined and redefined (2005, 994).


Taking its cue from these conceptualizations and among others, this seminar seeks to discuss, expand on, and think deeply about the debates that have emerged around eco-cosmopolitanism in contemporary world literatures. Is it better to be rooted locally to develop a responsible ethic toward the earth, or to engage in environmental issues from a global, cosmopolitan perspective? What spaces does eco-cosmopolitanism produce and how do they differ from those produced by the cosmopolitan idea of one “good common world’? What narrative forms, modes or genres are especially useful for illuminating eco-cosmopolitanism?  How world literature might generate new insights and frameworks that help understand eco-cosmopolitanism at large? How does world literature explore and exploit conceptions of eco-cosmopolitanism whether they are philosophical or aesthetic? What are the limits of eco-cosmopolitanism in terms of who or what is included and excluded?

 


Possible  topics include but are certainly not limited to:

landscape, memory, eco-cosmopolitanism

sites of trauma and eco-cosmopolitanism

eco-cosmopolitanism, representing environmental and climate crises

eco-cosmopolitanism at various scales

affect and apprehending/representing eco-cosmopolitanism

eco-cosmopolitanism in the Anthropocene

aesthetic modes (i.e. apocalypse, pastoral) or epistemological modes (i.e. the uncanny, alienation) and eco-cosmopolitanism

storytelling and eco-cosmopolitanism

eco-cosmopolitanism and citizenship

Please submit abstracts of 250-300 words by September 23. Inquiries may be sent to deniz@wustl.edu

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