Potentials of Ecocriticisms - AHCS Graduate Student Symposium

Friday, February 8, 2019toSaturday, February 9, 2019
Arts Building W-215, 853 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal, QC, H3A 0G5, CA

Location: ARTS W-215, McGill University, 845 Sherbrooke West, Montréal

16:00 – 19:00
Film screening of Anthropocene: The Human Epoch
Followed by a discussion with Director Jennifer Baichwal + reception


Location: Thomson House, 3650 McTavish, Montréal

9:00 – 10:15
Panel 1: Landscape, Map and Matter

Moderator: Ayesha Vemuri, McGill University

Laurence Charlebois, Concordia University
“Remodelling the Tahitian Landscape: The Legacy of French Occupation in French Polynesia”

Nicolas Holt, McGill University
“Trading the Terrain for the Map: Frank Gillette’s SIX MATRICES and the Limits of Traditional Media Ecology”

jake moore, McGill University
“Storied Matter and teaching-a-stone-to-talk inverted; Mattered story and learning how to listen”

10:15 – 10:30
Coffee Break

10:30 – 11:30
Panel 2: Plants and Biophilia

Moderator: Robin Lynch, McGill University

Andrea Valentine-Lewis, McGill University
“Artistic and Affective Strategies to Combat Solastalgia”

Marcus Prasad, University of British Columbia
“Natures of Consumption: Biophilia, Open Space, and the Mall

11:30 – 12:30
Panel 3: Eco-Marxism

Moderator: Burç Kostem, McGill University

Joel Auerbach, McGill University
“The Concept of Potentiality as an Ecocritical Analytic”

Hannah Tollefson, McGill University
“Canaries and coal miners; a multispecies energy history”

12:30 – 13:30
Lunch Break

13:30 – 14:45
Panel 4: Animals and Body Parts

Moderator: Rach Klein, McGill University

Georgia Phillips-Amos, Concordia University
“The Enclosure and the Crash: Rhinos in the Work of William Kentridge”

Chanelle Lalonde, McGill University
“Mourning Extinct and Endangered Birds in Contemporary Art”

Stéphanie Hornstein, Concordia University
“Manhandled: Prescient Ecofeminism in Agnes Denes’ Body Prints

14:45 – 15:45
Keynote: “French Art in the Age of Oil”

Brian R. Jacobson, Cinema Studies Institute, University of Toronto
This talk examines how France’s emerging oil industry and its petrochemical subsidiaries came to bear on the French neo-avant-garde and French cinema during the 1950s and 1960s. With particular attention to the work of Yves Klein and industrial filmmakers employed by French oil and gas companies, it investigates how petroleum and its industry created both content and material conditions of possibility for new forms of hydrocarbon art. In what ways, the talk asks, did such art speak back to the extractive industry that made it possible, and with what consequences for our long-term understanding of oil’s and art’s entangled ecologies, the politics of France’s neo-avant-garde, and the climate changing processes named by the so-called Anthropocene?

15:45 – 16:00
Tea Break

Panel discussion: Brian Jacobson (UofT), Christine Ross (McGill), Darin Barney (McGill)

Moderator: Hannah Tollefson, McGill University


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. 

Invited speakers and panelists: Brian R. Jacobson (UofT), Jennifer Baichwal (filmmaker), Christine Ross (McGill) and Darin Barney (McGill)

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




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