Environmental Humanities

Research group - Department of Art and Media studies

Environmental Humanities


Publications – Julia Leyda

Publications – Julia Leyda

This article considers films that portray negative mobility and domicide in the wake of the housing crisis and recession on the one hand, and climate change on the other. It puts forward the thesis that these films register a pervasive reversal (not unprecedented, but newly urgent) of archetypal American notions about mobility, which render the process in optimistic terms—upward and outward. These give way to a dominant image of downward, aimless mobility in the context of impoverishment and homelessness, an imagery I condense in the concept of ‘negative mobility.’ The trope of domicide—the intentional destruction of home—provides a theoretical lens with which to examine the upheavals and growing inequalities in the contemporary US. These two concepts enable me to theorize the renewed significance of home and mobility in contemporary culture with the advent of the twin crises of the housing crash and climate change. Both crises play out across ‘homes’ located at multiple scales, from the individual and family to the national and beyond, bringing challenges to representation. Cinema is a prime location for articulating the kinds of affective scenarios that can make such complex issues graspable, interweaving emotional and visceral engagement with more considered intellectual responses and (sometimes) aesthetic pleasures. This will be exemplified with case studies of two films, 99 Homes (2014, director: Ramin Bahrani) and Snowpiercer (2017, director: Bong Joon Ho).

Read more: https://www.literarygeographies.net/index.php/LitGeogs/article/view/170

“Petropolitics, Cli-Fi, and Occupied.” Special Issue “Ecocritical Approaches to Scandinavian Visual Media.” Journal of Scandinavian Cinema 8.2 (2018): 83-101.  DOI: https://doi.org/10.1386/jsca.8.2.83_1

One of a growing group of television series that can be classified as climate fiction, Occupied takes as its premise a hostile political response to Norway’s sudden move towards energy transition. Occupied draws on the long tradition of the Norwegian occupation drama, while also resonating with contemporary tensions between Russia and its neighbours. Mobilizing familiar structures of feeling common to many cli-fi texts as well as recent news cycles, Occupied brings together the genre conventions of political thrillers, occupation dramas and extreme weather/disaster films. With its ensemble cast that explores the conflicting loyalties and personal stakes involved in the emerging crisis, the series portrays the complexities of its fictional petropolitics as a layered accumulation of historical and recent memory shot through which personal and political investments of every conceivable kind that premediate possible futures in the Anthropocene.

“Cli-Fi in American Studies: A Research Bibliography,” with Susanne Leikam. American Studies Journal 62 (2017). Open Access. http://www.asjournal.org/62-2017/cli-fi-american-studies-research-bibliography/#

Despite the wealth of cli-fi primary texts across all media, there has not yet been a comprehensive compilation of secondary sources facilitating the engagement with cli-fi in the environmental humanities. Our research bibliography aims to close this gap by providing an extensive, albeit necessarily fragmented and incomplete, pool of resources for scholars, educators, and the interested members of the public. This list extends from journalistic considerations of cli-fi texts and of the term itself to academic scholarship theorizing the generic and disciplinary implications of cli-fi for research and teaching, capturing the heterogeneity, productivity, and heteroglossia in the field. It is meant to provide a stepping stone into cli-fi’s diverse, at times hotly debated, conceptual trajectories, disciplinary appropriations, and ideological underpinnings. Up to now, there is no general agreement on how cli-fi is defined, and the same pertains to its conceptual frameworks, methodological approaches, and theories. Variously understood as merely an abbreviation for climate fiction, its own standalone literary and/or cultural genre, a subfield of science fiction, or a comprehensive concept for assessing the cultural production in the Anthropocene (to name but very few of the many current designations), cli-fi thus provides a momentum, instigating the (re)visitation of fundamental disciplinary questions—some of them novel, some of them long-established and intimately familiar, as we and our contributors discuss at greater length in regard to American Studies elsewhere (see Leikam and Leyda).

“‘What’s in a Name?’: Cli-Fi and American Studies,” with Susanne Leikam. Extended Forum. Amerikastudien / American Studies 62.1 (2017): 109-38.

This extended forum originated with an event at the European Association for American Studies Conference 2016 in Constanta, Romania, where Susanne Leikam and I organized a two-hour roundtable that featured 10-minute statements by all participants followed by a substantive discussion. Our main goal was to critically interrogate the various conceptual, methodological, and terminological approaches to contemporary climate change fiction (including film, television, literature, and theater) in the field of American Studies and related disciplines regarding their assumptions, usefulness, and ideological limitations. Thanks to the high quality of the participants’ contributions and the enthusiastic responses during the discussion session, we decided to produce a written document that could disseminate the many provocative and productive arguments and debates that grew out of that event. Our introduction sets up the framework in which a conversation about cli-fi (or climate fiction) may occur, asking relevant questions about the term itself and its utility for research and teaching using literary, performance, and screen texts about climate change. We also indicate the specificity of the North American context and the US’s central role as a producer of both globally distributed texts and pollutants contributing to climate change makes this conversation especially relevant to the field(s) of American studies. The timeliness of this issue also in part explains the popularity of cli-fi in school and university course reading lists, as well as in the programs of international academic conferences

“The Dystopian Impulse of Contemporary Cli-Fi: Lessons and Questions from a Joint Workshop of the IASS and the JFKI (FU Berlin),” with Kathleen Loock, Alexander Starre, Thiago Pinto Barbosa, and Manuel Rivera. Working Paper of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam. December 2016. Open Access. http://www.iass-potsdam.de/sites/default/files/files/wp_nov_2016_the_dystopian_impulse_of_contemporary_cli-fi.pdf

This working paper is adapted from the “Cli-Fi Workshop” that was held at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin on 13 May 2016, and co-sponsored by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), Potsdam. The workshop was a joint event bringing together two M.A. seminars, taught by Dr. Kathleen Loock and Dr. Alexander Starre at the John F. Kennedy Institute at the Freie Universität Berlin during the summer semester 2016. We designed the event to include input from both sides: the seminars’ instructors and students and the two researchers from the IASS – Prof. Dr. Julia Leyda and Thiago Pinto Barbosa. That day of multi-directional intellectual exchanges and inspiring discussions from the different perspectives we all bring to climate fiction, or cli-fi, provided the starting point for this paper.

“Introduction: Extreme Weather and Global Media,” with Diane Negra. Extreme Weather and Global Media. Eds. Julia Leyda and Diane Negra. New York: Routledge, 2015.

The introduction sets up the main interventions of the book, arguing that in the two decades bracketing the turn of the millennium, large-scale weather disasters have been inevitably constructed as media events. As such, they challenge the meaning of concepts such as identity and citizenship for both locally affected populations and widespread spectator communities. This is especially true given the emergence of transnational, convergent media environments that employ highly standardized “breaking news” and follow-up reporting protocols and in light of the millennial dispersion and normalization of notions of the “risk society.” It particularly pertains to the representation of extreme weather in televisual form including news coverage, preparedness programming, and catastrophe re-enactment. Seeking to better understand the political implications embedded within public affective responses as well as official narratives, we argue that this under-studied mode of media output is part of a representational matrix through which audiences re-assess the security of late capitalism and social democratic logics. We contend that, in the US and in other countries, the intense promotion and consumption of weather events takes up the slack for the public conversations we are not having about climate change and for the feeling of powerlessness that accompanies the realization that depreciation of natural resources has reached a point of no return. Despite this, contemporary media studies strikingly lacks a body of well-developed critical literature on weather media. For these reasons, we argue in our introduction that it is a propitious moment to widen scholarly pathways in this area, particularly with a global, multi-centered approach.

“‘This Complicated, Colossal Failure’: The Abjection of Creighton Bernette in HBO’s Treme.” Television and New Media 13.3 (2012): 243-60.

In this article, I perform a close reading of John Goodman’s character Creighton Bernette in David Simon’s HBO series Treme, set in post-Katrina New Orleans. The central argument is that Creighton, in his abjection, embodies post-Katrina New Orleans in crucial ways: physical and emotional excesses become ways to distance his character from viewers, analogous to the othering of the city and its inhabitants in post-Katrina media and public discourses. Creighton’s character provokes emotions that echo America’s paradoxical love and disdain for New Orleans in all its eccentricities and excesses. His abjection, most visibly signaled by his fatness, ultimately operates as a check on the political critique that his character represents on Treme. Creighton’s lack of control—over his emotions, his work, and finally his own life—echoes those other instances where control was lacking: the failure of the levees, of the government, even of American society to adequately respond to the inundation of New Orleans. In this pathologized personification of the city, Creighton’s portrayal as a man with a fatal lack of control (in his appetites and emotions) reinforces the logic that essentially blames New Orleans for its own destruction and pathology, much the way popular discourses about obesity distance and mark fatness as abject.

Publications

Publications

Publications - Heli Aaltonen

Publications - Heli Aaltonen

Aaltonen, H. (2015). Manifesto for green drama. DRAMA : Nordisk dramapedagogisk tidsskrift 2015 (3), pp. 6-7.

Aaltonen, H. (2015). Performing Birds – Utøvende fugler Cato Fossum is translater of the article in DRAMA: Nordisk dramapedagogisk tidsskrift 2015 (3), pp. 12-18.

Aaltonen, H. (2015). Voice of the forest: post-humanism and applied theatre practice. Research in Drama Education 2015. Volume 20.(3) pp. 417-421.

Aaltonen, H. (ed.) (2011). Naturberättelser: berättande om förhållandet mellan människan och miljön. Svensk översättning Annika Rikberg. (Originaltittel Luontojutut: tarinankerrontaa ympäristön ja ihmisen välisestä suhteesta.) SamBodyPlays-projekt: Åbo.

Aaltonen, H. (2011). Berättande med inriktning på hållbar utveckling – Kestävän kehityksen tarinankerronta. I: H. Aaltonen (ed.) Naturberättelser: berättande om förhållandet mellan människan och miljön. Åbo: Sam Body Plays – projekt under kulturhuvudstadsåret 2011 inom sektorn för fostran och undervisning i Åbo 2011 ISBN 978-952-5217-97-1. pp. 4-7

Aaltonen, H. (2011). Berättelser om sälmänniskor: exempel på ekosofiskt berättande – Hyljeihmistarinat: esimerkki ekosofisesta tarinankerronnasta. I H. Aaaltonen (ed.) Naturberättelser: berättande om förhållandet mellan människan och miljön. Åbo: Sam Body Plays – projekt under kulturhuvudstadsåret 2011 inom sektorn för fostran och undervisning i Åbo 2011 ISBN 978-952-5217-97-1. pp. 28-32.

Aaltonen, H. (2011). Sju stigar till det undermedvetna – Seitsemän polkua alitajunnan maailmaan. I H. Aaltonen (ed.): Naturberättelser: berättande om förhållandet mellan människan och miljön. Åbo: Sam Body Plays – projekt under kulturhuvudstadsåret 2011 inom sektorn för fostran och undervisning i Åbo 2011 ISBN 978-952-5217-97-1. pp. 13-32.

Aaltonen, H. (2011). Selkie stories as an example of ecosophical storytelling, In S. Schonman (Ed.) Key Concepts in Theatre/Drama Education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, pp. 153-158.

Publications - Ulla Angkjær Jørgensen

Publications - Ulla Angkjær Jørgensen

Chapter in the book Digital Dynamics in Nordic Contemporary Art (2019), Chicago University Press.

Title: "Reformulations of the ‘Natural’ World: Jana Winderen’s Sound Installation The Wanderer".

Chapter summary: In this chapter, Jørgensen addresses a tendency of fixation and quantification of nature as scientific phenomenon. Jørgensen elaborates on how the quantification of nature tends to disconnect humans from it – and with that, disconnects us from the critical ecological conditions of our planet. In examining the aesthetic reformulations of human-nature relations in the audio works of the Norwegian artist Jana Winderen, who excavates data materialities and presents these to audiences in an accessible form, Jørgensen proposes an alternative concept of nature as a quality embedded in and dependent on human perception and sense-experience.

Publications - Hanna Musiol

Publications - Hanna Musiol

“Toxicity, Speculation, Rights: Political Imagination in Mixmedia, Literary, and Cinematic Futurescapes,” in Writing Beyond the State: Post-Sovereign Approaches to Human Rights and Literary Studies, ed. Sam Pinto and Alexandra Schultheis Moore. (London: Palgrave, 2020), 330-357.

“Metaphors of Decryption: Designs, Poetics, Collaborations,” in Decrypting Power, part of the Global Critical Caribbean Thought series, ed. Ricardo Sanín Restrepo (London: Rowman and Littlefield, 2018), 157-178.  

"Liquid Modernity”: Sundown in Pawhuska, Oklahoma,” Oil Culture, eds. Daniel Worden and Ross Barrett (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014: 129-144).

*“Transnational Labor and Aesthetic Theory in Ursula Biemann’s Geobodies,” Journal of Labor and Society 15 (March 2012): 15–33.

“Cinematic Primitivism: Landscapes in Robert and Frances Flaherty’s Documentaries,” The Documentary Tradition 38.1 (2007).