Creaturely Ecopoetics: Re-viewing Romanticism in the Anthropocene
Peel Lecture Hall, Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol
This talk will be given by Kate Rigby, Director of the Research Centre for Environmental Humanities at Bath Spa University and Adjunct Professor at Monash University (Melbourne).
The paper emerges from my current book project, Anthropocene Romanticism: Poetry/Ecology/Decolonisation, which returns to Romanticism in the horizon of current Anthropocene debates. The book sets out to counter what I take to be reductive critiques of Romanticism by demonstrating the continuing significance (at once aesthetic, ethico-political and pragmatic) of the ecopoetic arts of resistance that were first practiced and theorised by British and German writers of the Romantic period at the onset of fossil-fuelled industrialisation and in the face of new forms of colonisation of non-dominant peoples and beyond-human nature. Discussing also the work of modern and contemporary poets from North America and Australia, I consider what it might mean to creatively re-inherit Romanticism in crafting decolonising practices of sympoiesis. In this paper, I focus on the ‘creaturely ecopoetics’ of John Clare, as exemplified in his poem ‘Wild Bees’, which discloses continuities between human language and poiesis, or making, especially those things we artfully make out of words, and the communicative and place-making activities of other creatures. In view of the current collapse of many bee populations around the world, I consider how Clare’s creaturely ecopoetics finds a counterpart in practices of reparative more-than-human sympoiesis in the present.
Professor Kate Rigby FAHA is Director of the Research Centre for Environmental Humanities at Bath Spa University and Adjunct Professor at Monash University (Melbourne). Her research lies at the intersection of environmental literary, philosophical, historical and religious studies, with a specialist interest in European Romanticism, ecopoetics, and eco-catastrophe. She is Senior Editor of the journal Philosophy Activism Nature (http://www.panjournal.net/ ), co-editor of the University Press of Virginia series, Under the Sign of Nature, and her books include Topographies of the Sacred: The Poetics of Place in European Romanticism (2004), Ecocritical Theory: New European Approaches (co-edited, 2011) and Dancing with Disaster: Environmental Histories, Narratives, and Ethics for Perilous Times (2015). A key researcher with the Humanities for the Environment Mellon Australia-Pacific Observatory, she was the inaugural President of the Association for the Study of Literature, Environment and Culture (Australia-New Zealand), and the founding Director of the Australia-Pacific Forum on Religion and Ecology.