Braddock and Irmscher (2009) define ecocriticism as a critical approach that “emphasizes issues of environmental interconnectedness, sustainability, and justice” in order to inflect the existing vocabularies, tropes and epistemologies of cultural interpretation.¹
As such, ecocritical analyses often engage with the material forms and discursive constructions of media infrastructures. Parks and Starosielski (2015) note that media infrastructures have been and continue to be used “to claim and reorganize territories and temporal relations.”² Their material dependence on and interconnectedness with the environment imbricate media infrastructures within issues of resource development, urban planning, Indigenous and national sovereignties, surveillance, labour, etc.
How can art history and communication studies adopt ecocriticism as an interpretative paradigm in their respective analyses? More specifically, in which ways can they incorporate environmental history and ecology in order to develop what Braddock and Irmscher (2009) describe as “a more earth-conscious mode of analysis”?³
To be held on February 8th and 9th, 2019 in Montreal, Quebec, the AHCS Graduate Symposium will present original and insightful graduate work that addresses questions related to the environmental turn in cultural interpretation. Proposals can revolve around but are not limited to investigations of how artists are or have been involved, both materially and conceptually, with the realities of resource extraction, climate change and human displacement; or how environmental and Indigenous activists engage media practices as forms of resistance.
¹ Alan C. Braddock and Christopher Irmscher, A Keener Perception: Ecocritical Studies in American Art History
(Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 2009), 2.
² - Lisa Parks and Nicole Starosielsky (eds.), Signal Traffic: Critical Studies of Media Infrastructures (Urbana,
Chicago and Springfield: University of Illinois Press, 2015), 5.1
³ - Braddock and Irmscher, A Keener Perception, 3. Xyrography #14, 2018