Who knew that Downtown St. Louis -- with its mix of parabolic arches, sculpture gardens, and pink fountains -- was such an object-oriented neighborhood? Now that is done I wanted to gather together the twitter conversation from three related sessions for future reference: Julian Yates and Jeffrey Cohen's "Object-Oriented Enivrons," Steve Mentz's "Catastrophic Ecologies," and Lowell Duckert's, "Elemental Shakespeare." Standard caveats: live-tweeting a seminar results in only the roughest of paraphrases. The limitations of Twitter don't always match the speed of seminar discussion or the depth of insight on the paper panels. These tweets should be understood as split-second summaries and instant reactions by the auditors. I welcome any additions or corrections.
First up on Thursday, April 10 was Jeffrey Cohen and Julian Yates's seminar, "Object-Oriented Environs, Part 1." Here's the seminar description: "This seminar stages a confluence of two important trends in critical theory: the environmental turn and object-oriented ontology (vibrant materialism, new materialism, speculative realism). These modes of inquiry move beyond anthropocentrism to examine nonhumans at every scale, their relations to each other, and the ethics of human enmeshment with a material world that possesses its own agency. How does our apprehension of the inhuman change when texts become laboratories for probing the liveliness, mystery, and autonomy of objects, in their alliances and in performance?"
Jeffrey and Julian asked each seminar participant to bring a totem or avatar of the object doing the environing in each paper. I wish we had thought to assemble all of the objects on the seminar table as a kind of curiosity cabinet. We needed a group photo of the seminar's nonhuman participants!
At about the halfway point in the discussion, Jeffrey and Julian turned to Julia Lupton and Drew Daniel as designated respondents to the seminar. Their responses and questions were as generous as they were provocative. Julia Lupton brought together Sianne Ngai and Graham Harman to discuss the different kinds of allure of the different totems at the center of each paper.