Sounding the Anthropocene: A One-Day Symposium

Please join us for a day of discussion on March 11, 2016.

University of Alberta, Arts-Based Research Studio (Education North 4-104)

Although the topic of the “Anthropocene” has become increasingly popular in both academic and public spheres, there remains a certain blindness to the ways in which our all-too-human regimes of representation have come to limit the ability to respond to the pressing issues facing the human species today. Such anthropocentric “blind spots” operate through the assumption that humans are at the height of the natural evolutionary progression of life, in turn producing hierarchies between different lifeforms, while also legitimizing attitudes of exploitation and profiteering of those non-human entities with whom we share the planet. This anthropocentric bias is difficult to point to, let alone question, precisely because such a bias often manifests itself in silence. It is within this site of silence, this hushed impasse, where we hope to make some noise. “Sounding the Anthropocene” is a one-day Symposium that will investigate both the material and conceptual attributes of sound — those reverberating, nonsignifying vibrations — as a mode for thinking the “Anthropocene” anew. The Symposium will include sessions with a diverse range of thinkers whose work with sound resonates through a variety of fields including musicology, education, art and performance, science fiction studies, and philosophy.

Schedule (Click the Links for Full Session Descriptions)

9:00-9:15 | Welcome

9:15-10:30 | Session 1: “In|human Rhythms” with Bernd Herzogenrath

11:00 – 12:30 | Session 2: “Sound Without Organs” with Jessie Beier and Jason Wallin

12:30-1:30  | LUNCH 

1:30-3:30 | Session 3: “Soundscape Interventions” with Scott Smallwood

 2:30-3:30 | Session 4: “The Meaning of Treedom: Mass Extinction and the Silent Things” with Sha LaBare

4:00-5:30 | SPECIAL SESSION: “All Things Considered: Immanence, Ecology and Education” with Distinguished Visiting Professor Dr. Hanjo Berressem   

5:30- 8:00 Closing Reception



“In Luce Ambulemus: Light, Ecology and the Arts” w/ Hanjo Berressem

As a conclusion to the 2015/2106 Speaker Series “Anthropocene, Ecology, Pedagogy: The Future in Question”, curated by jan jagodzinski, we are pleased to announce a series of events taking place in March including a week-long lecture series and a day-long symposium.

First up, we are very excited to welcome Dr. Hanjo Berressem (University of Cologne) for a week of free lunch-time lectures entitled “In Luce Ambulemus: Light, Ecology and the Arts”. Hanjo Berressem teaches American Literature and Culture at the University of Cologne, Germany and has written in the fields of theory, contemporary American fiction, media studies, the interfaces of art and science, as well as ‘nature writing’ and ecology.

Please find all of the details below and feel free to forward this information to any interested contacts! Looking forward to seeing you there!

“In Luce Ambulemus:” Light, Ecology and the Arts
A week-long lecture series with Distinguished Visiting Professor Hanjo Berressem.

Monday, March 7-Saturday, March 12
12-1:30 PM Daily (Except for Friday, March 11)
Arts-Based Research Studio (Ed. North 4-104)

In his book “Cinema 1: The Movement Image”, Gilles Deleuze notes that ‘the plane of immanence is entirely made up of light.’ Taking its inspiration from Deleuze’s inherently ‘luminous philosophy,’ the series of lectures follows the different ways in which light is used as a fundamental medium in land art, the cinema, and in literature. Although each of the lectures is independent of the others, the series is set up in such a way that it develops, from the growing resonances between the single lectures, an inherently ecological ‘aesthetics of immanence.’

SAVE THE DATE: March 11!

SAVE THE DATE :: We will be ending the series with a final week of thinking together, running from March 7-11. The week will feature a series of lunch-hour talks with visiting Distinguished Scholar, Prof. Dr. Hanjo Berressem (University of Cologne), followed by a final day-long symposium on Friday, March 11. The theme for the day will be ‘Sounding the Anthropocene’ and will feature several speakers, performances and a reception to follow. More details coming soon!

“Intervals of Resistance: Being True to the Earth in Light of the Anthropocene” with Janae Sholtz

Next up in the series: Intervals of Resistance: Being True to the Earth in Light of the Anthropocene” with Dr. Janae Sholtz, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Alvernia University and the Coordinator of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program.

Details: Friday, February 12, 12-1PM, Arts-Based Research Studio (Ed North 4-104).


“Intervals of Resistance: Being True to the Earth in Light of the Anthropocene”

Rather than abiding by the catastrophic or fatalistic visions that so often accompany the invocation of the Anthropocene, this presentation operates from the assumption that thinking the conditions of the anthropocene, where those conditions also necessitate the relinquishment of any Promethean aspirations of human technological overcoming of the Anthropocene, may present us the opportunity to imagine a different future and entirely new ways of inhabiting this planet. This presentation develops the need for an ontological shift in consciousness towards a new sensitivity to affective and intensive engagements as necessary pedagogical tools in our attempts to navigate the epoch of the Anthropocene. Influenced by the work of Deleuze and Guattari, this ontological shift is figured as a move from the earth to the cosmic, where the cosmic exposes the illusionary wholeness and substantiality that has undergirded our concept of the earth, and indicates the necessity of thinking through the indices of our modern era of capitalist deterritorialization in order to engage these processes in more productive directions. What is called for is the de-centering of our selves in order to be true to the earth. This is the potential that we want to explore. It would require (1) developing a sensitivity to the level of force and intensity by which the cosmic arises and operates – what I am going to call a sensibility to affect and immanence; and (2) the invention of practices and ways of being that allow for or precipitate this development – which I am going to explore through the invocation of the creative potential of art to produce an experience of the ontological level of the cosmic that then becomes the basis for a new philosophical thought, to infuse philosophy with affects that produce intervals and slowness. As Deleuze and Guattari imagine, this will become the work of the cosmic artisan, to reframe the indices of modernity, which is to say the powers revealed through Capitalist capture and proliferation of the cosmic, in an affirmative manner, and to produce new subjectivities that do not deny the present but do not succumb to it either.


Paul Klee, Magic Garden (Zaubergarten), 1926

Speaker Information:

Dr. Janae Sholtz is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Alvernia University and the Coordinator of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program. She was recently awarded the prestigious Neag Scholar Award for excellence in teaching and research. She received her PhD from University of Memphis and MA from New School for Social Research. She is the author The Invention of a People, Heidegger and Deleuze on Art and the Political, Edinburgh Press (2015), in which she contemplates the potential for new political futures by re-conceptualizing ontology through the imaginative, creative paradigms opened through the aesthetic considerations of Heidegger and Deleuze. Her research focus is Twentieth Century and Contemporary Continental Philosophy, avant-garde art and Contemporary Aesthetics, and Feminist Theory.  The intersectional aspect of her work is directed towards envisioning how different forms of expression and (aesthetic) activities generate new modes of thinking. Her current research interests include the structure of transgression, immanence as related to the ethics of the event, the influence of Stoicism in Deleuze’s philosophy, the intersection of art and the political, political ontology, and the potential of art as a form of resistance. 

Friday, Feb. 5 :: “The Anthropocene: We Made This!” with Matthew Tiessen

Next up in the series: “The Anthropocene: We Made This!” with Dr. Matthew Tiessen, Assistant Professor in the School of Professional Communication in the Faculty of Communication and Design at Ryerson University (Toronto).

Friday, February 5, 12-1PM, Arts-Based Research Studio (Ed North 4-104)


Image Credit 

This talk on the subject of the Anthropocene will be motivated by the following questions: When did we happen to notice that we were changing the planet? Why now? What opened our eyes? Haven’t we been aware of our earthly effects – and their attendant affects – for a while now? Why the Anthropocene? Why us? What was the tipping point, the event, that revealed to us the impact of our ways? Was it when we removed all the trees from the European continent? Was it when we surrounded the earth with space trash? Was it when we re-imagined the world as both a cash generating machine and a garbage dump? And do we not now regard the Anthropocene as some sort of an accomplishment? As our greatest achievement? Are we so out of achievements and so in crisis that we have begun to name geological eras after ourselves? What will the next geological era be named after? Is the Anthropocene our most profound aesthetic or artistic gesture? Are we not yet entertained? In order to begin to respond to some of these questions and lines of interrogation I will focus on issues related to, of course, anthropocentrism, as well as on topics such as money’s agency, the benefits of nonhuman natures, and the potential role of an intensification and expansion of human all-too-human self-preservation.

Speaker Biography:

Dr. Matthew Tiessen is an Assistant Professor in the School of Professional Communication in the Faculty of Communication and Design at Ryerson University (Toronto) and a Research Associate at The Infoscape Research Lab: Centre for the Study of Social Media. Dr. Tiessen holds a SSHRC Insight Development Grant in the area of “Digital Economy” to support work on the social implications of algorithmically-driven digital technologies. Matthew’s research has published in Theory, Culture & Society; Cultural Studies; The European Journal of Cultural Studies; Cultural Studies<=Critical Methodologies; Volume; MediaTropes; CTheory; Rhizomes; Surveillance & Society; Space and Culture; Pli: The Warwick Journal of Philosophy; Deleuze & Guattari, Politics and Education (2014, Bloomsbury); and Revisiting Normativity with Deleuze (2012, Bloomsbury).