Weird Ecologies and the Limits of Environmentalism

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Please join us on Thursday 12th May 5:00pm to 7:00pm in Arts 103 for a fascinating talk with Prof. Dennis Denisoff.

Prof. Dennis Denisoff

The Victorians thought and acted in ways we could now recognise as environmentalist, but they did so through their own methods and cultural matrices. My talk addresses an ecological worldview that contrasts with the stewardship models that dominated much of 19th-century British environmentalism. The flourishing of weird fiction in the late-19th and early-20th centuries has led to a sense of what has recently been called ‘global weirding’. Eco-weird fiction and art of the fin-de-siècle, I propose, emphasizes models of the ecological as a diversity of self-motivated agents or indifferent forces. These works are not, necessarily part of an environmentalist initiative, but they bring forward perspectives on animal, vegetal, and atmospheric ontology in which natural elements are subjects worthy of engagement on weird terms. In the process, the works undermine the confidence and productivist assumptions of a middle class assuming its capacity to organise, manage, and exploit the natural world.

Dennis Denisoff is McFarlin Chair of English and Film at the University of Tulsa and the author of, among other works, Aestheticism and Sexual Parody (Cambridge 2001), Sexual Visuality from Literature to Film (Palgrave MacMillan 2004), and Decadent Ecology: Decay, Desire, and the Pagan Revival (Cambridge 2022). His recent editing projects include Arthur Machen: Decadent and Occult Works (MHRA, 2019), guest edited journal issues on “Natural Environments” (Victorian Review, 2011), “Global Decadence” (Feminist Modernist Studies, 2021), and “Scales of Decadence” (Victorian Literature and Culture, 2021), and, with Talia Schaffer, The Routledge Companion to Victorian Literature (2020).

Please register for this event here!


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