“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).

“Catastrophism and Its Critics: On The Bad Politics of This Changes Everything and Racing Extinction” with Michael Truscello

Join us on Friday, January 29 for a discussion with Michael Truscello (Associate Professor in English and General Education at Mount Royal University in Calgary) entitled “Catastrophism and Its Critics: On The Bad Politics of This Changes Everything and Racing Extinction“. 

This talk examines what some leftists call “catastrophism,” the doomsaying that has characterized much of the environmentalist literature of the past few decades. Some leftists believe the emphases on catastrophic ecological realities demoralize and demobilize potentially radical communities. As Doug Henwood writes in the foreword to the 2012 collection Catastrophism: The Apocalyptic Politics of Collapse and Rebirth, “Wouldn’t it be better to spin narratives of how humans are marvellously resourceful creatures who could do a lot better with the intellectual, social, and material resources we have?…. Dystopia is for losers.” I will argue that prominent liberal and progressive filmmakers have taken this advice seriously, but in their attempts to produce anti-catastrophistic messages they have understated the crises we face and promoted solutions that are dramatically inadequate. In particular, I examine the recent documentary films This Changes Everything and Racing Extinction, because they exemplify both the most catastrophic ecological crises (climate change and mass extinction) and promote the worst forms of politics in response.


Speaker Biography:

Michael Truscello is an Associate Professor in English and General Education at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, and a member of the Petrocultures research cluster at the University of Alberta. His research interests include anarchism, the politics and poetics of infrastructure, petrocultures, and media studies. In 2011, he released the documentary film Capitalism Is The Crisis: Radical Politics in the Age of Austerity. He is currently developing a short film on suicide and politics, based on an interview with Franco “Bifo” Berardi. He has three book-length projects in the works: Art, Infrastructure, and Cultural Theory examines the politics and poetics of infrastructure; Why Don’t The Poor Rise Up?, which he co-edits with Ajamu Nangwaya, analyzes contemporary obstacles to popular insurrection; and Infrastructuralism and Communication Theory, which he co-edits with Daniel Paré, assembles writings on the infrastructural turn in communication theory. In August 2015, he participated in the After Oil initiative at the University of Alberta, a collaborative, interdisciplinary research partnership designed to explore, critically and creatively, the social, cultural and political changes necessary to facilitate a full-scale transition from fossil fuels to new forms of energy.

“Freedom in the Anthropocene: Twentieth-Century Helplessness in the Face of Climate Change” with Andony Melathopoulos

Join us on Friday, January 15 for the first of our Winter 2016 series of discussions in the Future in Question lecture series featuring Andony Melathopoulos  from the Natural Sciences Program at the University of Calgary.

Freedom in the Anthropocene: Twentieth-Century Helplessness in the Face of Climate Change

While it is clear that the Holocene/Anthropocene transition marks the unprecedented transformation of human societies, scholars have not been able to account for what this transition entails, how it could give rise to our current ecological predicament, and how we might plausibly move beyond it. Without such an understanding, we are left with an inadequate analysis that creates the condition for ill-informed policy decisions and a self-sustaining cycle of unsuccessful attempts to ameliorate societally induced environmental degradation. The talk will illuminate our current ecological predicament by focusing on the issue of history and freedom and how it relates to our current inability to render environmental threats and degradation recognizable, and by extension, subject to its conscious and free overcoming by society. Working through the writings of three twentieth century critical theorists (Georg Lukács, Theodor W. Adorno, and Moishe Postone), Stoner and Melathopoulos argue that the idea of the Anthropocene is a historically specific reflection of helplessness, which only becomes possible at the close of the twentieth century.


Andony Melathopoulos Biography

Andony Melathopoulos is a postdoctoral scholar in the Natural Sciences Program at the University of Calgary. His research is motivated by our current paradox: ecological degradation continues to accelerate even amid growing environmental attention and concern. How is it that our increasing technical ability to measure this degradation grows in parallel with a seemingly runaway pattern of unsustainability? His current research poses this question against the rapid expansion of pollinator-dependent crops and the problem of wild pollinator conservation in agriculture. He combines traditional environmental science methodologies—field research, pollination ecology, statistical modeling—in parallel with scholarship in the environmental humanities—ecological economics, political economy, and critical social theory. Through relating these two disciplinary areas he has been able to demonstrate how certain environmental science questions (e.g., the value of wild pollinating insects to agricultural output) veil unsustainable social processes behind a set of technical problems. His work in this field has been recognized internationally in journals such as Ecological Economics, in fora such as the International Conference on Global Food Security, and he was recently invited to be an expert reviewer of the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ Thematic Assessment of Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production for the United Nations.