Talks


2017 MLA CONVENTION PHILADELPHIA, 5–8 JANUARY

Title: “Climate Realism: Aesthetics of Weather, Climate, Atmosphere”

Three panelists from across the spectrum of energy and environmental humanities will address Climate Realism at MLA 2017, bookended by a short introduction on the concept of the panel by Marija Cetinić, and a brief response by Lynn Badia.

Calista McRae’s paper, “More than weather”: Climate in Clampitt,” studies the atmospherics of Amy Clampitt’s poetry in relation to recent debates about the literary history of the lyric. McRae argues that both mood and weather are bound to one another in Clampitt’s ecopoetics, and the spectre of climate crisis therefore gets projected as a lyrical crisis. McRae’s talk concludes with a brief survey of related techniques in other late-20th-century poems. Matthew Schneider-Mayerson’s “Confronting Collapse: Surveying Apperception and Activism in Global Climate Change Fiction” measures the formal and thematic effects of recent climate change fiction through both a close and a distant reading of Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior (2012), Daniel Kramb’s From Here(2012) and Berit Ellingsen’s Not Dark Yet (2015). Schneider-Mayerson analyzes how “cli fi” models and creates the intellectual and affective apperception of climate crisis alongside moments of ephiphanic awareness, which prompts subsequent activism or quiescence. The paper’s aim is to both distil the emergent conventions of climate realism, and to offer a form of literary analysis specific to this new aesthetic category. And finally, Jeff Diamanti’s “Clouds, Climate, Crisis: A Short Art History of the Weather” compares the aesthetic theory of the cloud as it was initially formulated in Hubert Damisch’s ground-breaking Theory of /Cloud/: Toward a History of Painting (1972) to the contemporaneous emergence of two very different cloud-based architectures: Diller, Scofidio + Renfro’s “Blur Building” at the Swiss Expo, 2002, and Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud in 2006. Between the theoretical and architectural turn to clouds, Diamanti argues, is the materialization of what was the trope of weather that underwrites the discourse of mood in 20th century theory.

Put in conversation with one another, these papers name and clarify the aesthetics and formal strategies of “climate realism.” Each of our panelists examine the aesthetics of atmospherics in order to map new discursive, political, and affective formations that began to emerge in the late 20th century. The framing comments and responses to be given by Cetinić and Badia will make these connections explicit and elaborate how the significance of weather, climate, and atmosphere is transformed by contending with the new realities of climate crisis in era of the Anthropocene.

Participants:

Marija Cetinić: Moderator
Marija Cetinić is Assistant Professor in the Department of English at York University. She held a SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Alberta. Signs of Autumn: The Aesthetics of Saturation, her current project, focuses on the concept of saturation, and on developing its implications for the relation of contemporary art and aesthetics to political economy. Her essays have appeared in Mediations, Discourse, and European Journal of English Studies. “House, Library, Field: The Aesthetics of Saturation” appears as a chapter in Neoliberalism, Value, and Jouissance. “Affect Theory” is forthcoming in A Companion to Critical and Cultural Studies.

Jeff Diamanti: Panelist
Jeff Diamanti is the 2016-17 Media@McGill postdoctoral fellow in “Media and the Environment.” He is co-editor on a number of collections and companions on energy, climate and political theory, including After Oil (Winter 2016), a special issue of Reviews in Cultural Theory on “Envisioning the Energy Humanities” (March 2016), and Materialism and the Critique of Energy (forthcoming 2017). He has an article forthcoming on naturalism in US fiction and the transition to an oil economy in Western American Literature; energyscapes and the architecture of postindustrial philosophy in Postmodern Culture; and is working on a monograph titled The Long Transition: Market Media and the Future of Energy.

Calista McRae: Panelist
This spring Calista McRae will receive her PhD from Harvard, where she specialized in lyric poetry; starting this fall she will be an Assistant Professor of English at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Her current book project, Lyric as Comedy, focuses on humor and poetics in recent American writers; it argues that attention to lyric can expand our conceptions of comedy. A version of her first chapter will be published by Modern Philology in the fall of 2016; another recent article on Marianne Moore and Robert Lowell is forthcoming from Arizona Quarterly.

Matthew Schneider-Mayerson: Panelist
Matthew Schneider-Mayerson is Assistant Professor of Humanities (Environmental Studies) at Yale-NUS College. He has a PhD in American Studies from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and was a Cultures of Energy Postdoctoral Fellow at Rice University. His first book, Peak Oil: Apocalyptic Environmentalism and Libertarian Political Culture, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2015. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities, Environmental Politics, American Studies and the Journal for Religion, Nature and Culture, and he is the founder of the “Fossilized in Houston” public climate art project. His current research concerns the reception and impact of climate change fiction; narratives of the ongoing energy transition; the naturecultures of Singapore; and novel forms of collective happiness for the Anthropocene.

Lynn Badia: Respondent
Lynn Badia is a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Alberta in the Department of English and Film Studies. For the Fall 2015 term she was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Cambridge, as part of the Climate Histories Research Group at CRASSH Cambridge and Cambridge Interdisciplinary Research on the Environment. Badia’s research in literature, film, philosophy, and cultural studies is focused on questions about scientific knowledge and the natural world during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her research is published in or forthcoming from Nineteenth-Century Contexts: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Cultural Studies, Rutledge, and Fordham University Press, with additional working publications under contract. She is currently completing her second book manuscript, Imagining Free Energy: Fantasies, Utopias, and Critiques of America, which introduces the concept of “free” or unlimited energy as a critical framework for understanding the conditions of American society since the beginning of the industrial era.