“The Emergent Environmental Humanities: Engineering the Social Imaginary”

Appeared in
Connotations: A Journal for Critical Debate, vol. 28
Chad Weidner, Rosi Braidotti and Goda Klumbyte
If the Environmental Humanities (EH) matter, an essential concern is whether we can speak of the possibility of a philosopher of literary and ecological identity. This paper discusses the intersection points of the Environmental Humanities to the wider scientific debate. It suggests that the EH are suited to help construct knowledge for sustainable futures. The arrival of the Anthropocene provides opportunities to cross disciplinary boundaries. Ecocriticism investigates the complex and contradictory relationship between humans and the environment in literature. Ideas of citizenship allow space for conversation about civic responsibility and stewardship. Animal studies intervenes deeply across the humanities, which acknowledges the interspecies imaginary. Future techno-scientific developments make us reconsider distinctions between humans, animals, and machines. The concept of the posthuman emphasizes how profound changes will be for all species. Serious questions might best be answered by environmental philosophy, which articulates the impact of the environment on humans. New Materialism explains why matter matters, and has clear implications for the study of the environment. Work in postcolonial and digital media provides a platform to challenge geographic borders as well as reconsider national contexts. Essentially, this paper asserts that the EH is building critical mass, and functions as a lightning rod between the arts and sciences. Such a development has profound consequences for the future of literary studies.
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