Writing climate change: a roundtable with Ursula Heise, Min Hyong Song, and Sukanya Banerjee
Join our discussion on climate writing, with an emphasis on the meaning and role of “writing” in our understanding of climate change.
Three distinguished literary and cultural critics will reflect on their own relationship with writing in their respective scholarly domains. What difference do genre, mode and lyric evocation make in thinking about our environmental crisis and its repair? Beyond mere transmission of scientific ideas, can language, emplotment, and imagination rewire affective circuits, reorient our historical consciousness, recalibrate our relationship with the environment?
Ursula Heise is Professor in the Department of English and at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA. Her research and teaching focus on contemporary literature; environmental culture in the Americas, Western Europe and Japan; narrative theory; media theory; literature and science; and science fiction. Her books include Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global (Oxford UP, 2008), Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings of Endangered Species (University of Chicago Press, 2016), and The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities (co-edited with Jon Christensen and Michelle Niemann, 2016). She is editor of the book series “Literatures, Cultures, and the Environment” (Palgrave-Macmillan) and co-editor of “Literature and Contemporary Thought” (Routledge).
Min Hyong Song is Professor of English and Director of the Asian American Studies Program at Boston College. He is the author of numerous volumes, among them The Children of 1965: On Writing, and Not Writing, as an Asian American (Duke, 2013) which won the Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS) Prize in Literary Criticism, the Alpha Sigma Nu Award in Literature and Fine Arts, and received an Honorable Mention for the Association for the Study of the Arts in the Present (ASAP) Book Prize. His chapter “The Artful Things of Climate Change” in the volume Racial Ecologies, edited by LeiLani Nishime and Kim Hester Williams, won the Tarla Rai Peterson Book Award in Environmental Communication from the National Communications Association.
Prof. Song’s most recent book Climate Lyricism (forthcoming with Duke UP) considers how contemporary poetry and fiction, especially by Black, Native American, Asian American, and Latinx writers, can help readers develop a reading practice that allows them to focus on climate change as an everyday phenomenon.
Sukanya Banerjee is Associate Professor of English at UC Berkeley. She works on the literature and culture of Victorian Britain and its empire, in the framework of colonial and postcolonial studies, ecology, transnationalism and diaspora. Her book Becoming Imperial Citizens: Indians in the Late-Victorian Empire (Duke UP, 2010), was awarded the NVSA Sonya Rudikoff Prize for best first book in Victorian studies. She is a coeditor of New Routes in Diaspora Studies (Indiana UP, 2012) and is currently working on a book-length project on Victorian ecocolonialisms. Additional work on environmental issues include her essays “Ecologies of Cotton” Nineteenth-Century Contexts 2020), “Ecology, Drama, and the Ground of Empire: The Play of Indigo” (Ecological Form: System and Aesthetics in the Age of Empire, edited by Nathan Hensley and Philip Steer, Fordham UP, 2018), and “Who, or What, is Victorian?: Ecology, Indigo, and the Transimperial” (Victorian Studies 2016).