Stephanie Posthumus

Associate Professor
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At the intersection of several contemporary critical streams, Stephanie Posthumus’s research focuses on the representations of the non-human, or more-than-human, in contemporary French literature as well as across European literatures and cultures.

Constructing an ecological perspective for examining 20th and 21st Century French literary texts has been the main goal of her work since she finished her doctoral thesis in 2003. As Prof. Posthumus argues in several articles, ecocriticism, while based on a concern for global environmental problems, is not transferable from one national literature to another. The traditions, philosophies, and representations of the non-human world that influence and are influenced by literature create important cultural differences that do not allow for a global ecocritical perspective. To build a French ecocriticism, she draws on ideas such as l’écosophie (Félix Guattari), la nature-culture (Bruno Latour), and le contrat naturel (Michel Serres). Her articles demonstrate the use of French eco-theory to analyze questions of nature, environment, and landscapes in contemporary French novels (see her articles on Jean-Christophe Rufin, Michel Houellebecq, Marie Darrieussecq and Michel Tournier). Her work in this field was acknowledged as being both original and important when she was awarded the prize for the best article published in 2009 by a member of the APFUCC (Association des professeurs de français aux universités et collèges canadiens).

A second branch of her work looks at representations of animals in contemporary French literature. Whereas ecocriticism remains on the periphery of French literary studies, the animal question has garnered much critical attention in France. Researching different disciplinary work on animals, from philosophy (Jacques Derrida, Élisabeth de Fontenay, Dominique Lestel) to ethology (Boris Cyrulnik, Georges Chapouthier), from literary criticism (Lucile Desblache, Anne Simon) to animal ethics (Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer), Prof. Posthumus aims to define the animal question with respect to the French contemporary context. At the same time, she is interested in comparing this context to that of other European countries as the European Union has become an important ruling body for establishing laws about animal well-being and rights in Europe. The relationships between local, regional, and cultural differences in a global landscape are at the heart of Prof. Posthumus’s work on ecocriticism and animal studies.

More recently, Prof. Posthumus has been leading a research project on the convergences of the digital and the environmental humanities. Awarded a SSHRC Connections grant in 2013, she brought together scholars interested in exploring the ways in which digital technologies can be used to disseminate cutting edge research in the environmental humanities.  An integral part of the project, the robust Digital Environmental Humanities platform serves three main functions: 1) it acts as a hub for researchers in this emerging field; 2) it provides examples of analytic approaches such as topic modelling and mapping; and 3) it features pedagogical tools (DEH syllabi, guidebook blog entries) and digital exhibits of environmental humanities research in Canada. Working with digital texts and exploring new reading environments, Prof. Posthumus examines the philosophical assumptions upon which the human/machine binary has been built. In this way, she continues to develop a posthumanist approach that seeks to rethink the human in light of contemporary thinking about animals, machines, and nature's others.

Publications

Posthumus, Stephanie and Daniel Finch-Race, eds. French Ecocriticism: From the Early Modern Period to the Twenty-First Century. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2017.

Posthumus, Stephanie and Rachel Bouvet. “Eco- and Geo- Approaches in French and Francophone Literary Studies,” Handbook of Ecocriticism and Cultural Ecology, ed. Hubert Zapf. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2016. 385-412.

Posthumus, Stephanie. “Écocritique en français au Canada / Ecocriticism in French in Canada,” The Goose. Tenth Anniversary Edition, 14.2 (2016): 37-9.

Posthumus, Stephanie and Louisa Mackenzie, eds. French Thinking about Animals. East Lansing: Michigan State UP, 2015.

Posthumus, Stephanie. “L’imaginaire paysan et l’habiter écologique chez Marie-Hélène Lafon et Michel Serres,” Fixxion, Revue critique de fixxion française contemporaine, Special issue: Écopoétiques. 11 (2015): 100-11.

Posthumus, Stephanie and Stéfan Sinclair. “Reading Environment(s): Digital Humanities and Ecocriticism,” Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism, 18.3 (2014): 254-73.

Posthumus, Stephanie. "Pour une écocritique interdisciplinaire et engagée. Analyse de la nature et de l’environnement dans les sciences humaines,” Formes poétiques contemporaines, 11 (2014): 7-30.

Posthumus, Stephanie. "Les Enjeux des animaux (humains) chez Michel Houellebecq, du darwinisme au post-humanisme,” French Studies, Vol. LXVIII.3 (2014): 359-76.

Posthumus, Stephanie. “Portraits de l’homo litteratus dans le darwinisme littéraire et La Possibilité d’une île de Michel Houellebecq,” @nalyses, Revue de critique et de théorie littéraire, 9.2 (2014): 70-95. 

Posthumus, Stephanie and Louisa Mackenzie. “Reading Latour Outside: A Response to the Estok-Robisch Controversy,” Interdisciplinary Studies of Literature and the Environment, 20.4 (2013): 757-77.

Posthumus, Stephanie and Élise Salaün. “‘Mon pays, ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver’: Literary Representations of Nature and Ecocritical Thought in Québec,” Greening the Maple: Canadian Ecocriticism in Context, eds. Nicholas Bradley and Ella Soper-Jones. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2013. 297-327.

Posthumus, Stephanie.  “Penser l’imagination environnementale française sous le signe de la difference,” Raison publique, 17 (2012): 15-31.

Posthumus, Stephanie. "Writing the Land/scape: Marie Darrieussecq’s Le Pays,” French Literary Studies: The Environment in French and Francophone Literature and Film, 30 (2012): 103-117.

Posthumus, Stephanie. “Parcours météorologique, conscience climatique chez Michel Serres et Michel Tournier,” La Pluie et le beau temps. Discours scientifiques et transformations littéraires, du Moyen Age à l’époque moderne, ed. Karin Becker. Paris: Herman, 2012. 379-98.

Posthumus, Stephanie. “Vers une écocritique française: le contrat naturel de Michel Serres,” Mosaic, a journal for the interdisciplinary study of literature, 44.2 (2011): 85-100.

Posthumus, Stephanie and Stéfan Sinclair. “L’inscription de la nature et de la technologie dans La Possibilité d’une île de Michel Houellebecq,” Sites: Contemporary French & Francophone Studies, 15.3 (2011): 349-356.

Posthumus, Stephanie. “État des lieux de la pensée écocritique française,” Eco-zon@. European Journal of Literature, Culture, Environment, 1.1 (2010): 148-154.

Posthumus, Stephanie. La nature et l’écologie chez Claude Lévi-Strauss, Michel Serres, Michel Tournier. Étude de modèles structuralistes et écologistes chez trois penseurs français. Sarrebruck: Éditions universitaires européennes, 2010.

Posthumus, Stephanie. “‘Deux truites frémissant flanc à flanc’ : le structuralisme et l’écologisme chez Michel Tournier,” Dalhousie French Studies, 85 (2009): 167-82.

Posthumus, Stephanie. “L’exception écologiste francaise : Globalia de Jean-Christophe Rufin,” Sites: Contemporary French & Francophone Studies, 12.4 (2008): 445-453.

Posthumus, Stephanie. “Framing French Eco-Difference: A Brief Overview,” Re-public: Re-Imagining Democracy. Special Issue: From climate change to environmental justice? (2008). Online.

Posthumus, Stephanie. “Translating Ecocriticism: Dialoguing with Michel Serres,” Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture. Special Issue: Eco-Cultures: Culture Studies and the Environment. 7.2 (2007). Online.