Environmental Humanities

Doctoral Supervision

Graduate students in the Environmental Humanities work with supervisors in departments throughout the university within the framework offered by the Graduate School for the Humanities on broad range of projects. In addition to the support offered by the graduate school, PhD candidates in the Environmental Humanities meet regularly for a colloquium and to participate in workshops, symposia, and conferences organized by the EH research cluster.

Pearl-Sue Carper

E-Mail: pearl-sue.carper@uni-wuerzburg.de

Project Start: 2021

Project Description

the importance of the rosehip and the discourses and possibilities that this opens up. Known in everyday culture as a 'native' wild fruit and located regionally, the fruit of the rose is used in a variety of ways and, as a hedge plant, is not only part of the landscape design, but also essential for the everyday life of human and non-human creatures, for example in the form of food. Despite its wide distribution as a domestic rose tree and its local cultivation, it is largely imported into Germany for industrial processing into teas, jams, cosmetics, etc.

The focus of this work is the interweaving of locality and globality, non-human planted stocks and plantation cultivation, economic and ecological aspects as well as the common development of humans, plants and animals. Using the example of the everyday fruit rosehip, these complex relationships are analyzed against the background of current ecological crises, with recourse to post-anthropocentric theories, and the power of action and effectiveness of the rosehip is worked out. In this way, the study would like to contribute to the understanding of the design possibilities of rural areas and economies as well as the production of basic products of human life under the conditions of the Anthropocene.

Molina Klingler

E-Mail: molina.klingler@uni-wuerzburg.de

Project Start: 2019

Project Description

How is life narrated? Declared as an unalienable right in the Declaration of Independence, the security of life is one of the natural rights on which democracy is firmly grounded. How is this connection between life and rights narrated? Arguing that the literary imagination partakes in shaping the political and legal public discourse, this project explores contemporary speculative writing in order to investigate the conceptual changes in the intricate relation between /life/ and /rights/. With a growing sense of environmental awareness, and then particularly with the rise of theories of the Anthropocene, a paradigmatic shift becomes apparent: our understanding of life moves from an anthropocentric towards an ecocentric perspective.

My project looks at speculative stories of entangled human and other-than-human lives, which offer a testing ground for the idea of a multispecies democracy. Disclosing the connections between human rights,  environmental history, earth jurisprudence, and speculative writing, I assess cultural narratives about the inalienable rights we associate with life, and the literary representations of life itself.

Camille Lavoix

E-Mail: camille.lavoix@stud-mail.uni-wuerzburg.de

Project Start: 2020

Project Description

The African savannah covers about 13.5 million km², that is most of Africa south of the Sahara. 75% of these lands have already been decimated (Riggio et al. 2013). Some living beings are being swept away with them, others, starting with pangolins and bats, are cramped and share their breath-stealing viruses with humans. This disappearing savannah has been written and described by colonisers infected with another virus, racism, equally asphyxiating, and coupled with exotism, misogyny and specism. But the savannah is writing back, literature offering a formidable platform for rethinking this space, which is as concrete as it is symbolic. Writers sharing roots with West Africa offer invaluable perspectives for re-enchanting the savannah, going beyond criticism of exploitation and imagining relationships between living beings other than those of domination. This thesis aims to search for the dissident imaginaries and plural ethos nurtured by these authors. The hunting songs, poems, tales and science fiction flourishing in this region, mostly francophone, contain alternative representations that have so far been little explored by the currents of ecocriticism and écopoétique. Several academics, including Elizabeth Deloughrey and Byron Caminero-Santangelo, have recognised that this literary movement at the crossroads between environment and literature has been predominantly white and anglophone. This project therefore intends to participate in the blossoming of a francophone and anglophone African ecrocritic/poétique movement by investigating dissident representations of the savannah.

Hannah Nelson-Teutsch

E-Mail: hannah.nelson-teutsch@uni-wuerzburg.de

Project Start: 2019

Project Description

In the year 1500 Christopher Columbus declared to the Court of Spain that “God made me the messenger of the new heaven and new earth of which he spoke in the Apocalypse of St. John, and he showed me the spot where to find it.” From the Columbian arrival onwards, the intertwining of apocalyptic and landscape have been fundamental to imagining and transforming America. And yet, more than five centuries of scholarship have yielded not one single publication dedicated to the study of apocalyptic landscape in America. I propose to begin the work of unearthing the many ways in which American territory has become apocalyptic landscape, and how the unique material and discursive figuration of these spaces informs the ways in which apocalyptic landscapes are understood, accessed, and managed.

Lena Pfeifer

E-Mail: lena.pfeifer@uni-wuerzburg.de

Project Start: 2019

Project Description

Around the turn of the century, scientists proposed the Anthropocene as a new geological epoch in which man has become a geophysical force by transforming the physical surface of the earth. Since then, the term has given rise to ardent debates – not only in the sciences, but also in the humanities and in public discourse – on the relation between human beings, non-human entities, nature, and the environment. This project seeks to investigate to what extent the discourse of the
Anthropocene has become politicized and ethically normative. It is my particular aim to specify the role literary and aesthetic forms play in these processes. The project is divided into three parts: Firstly, the Anthropocene will be conceptualized as an ethical concept. Secondly, a selection of both contemporary literary and non-literary anglophone writing shall be analyzed against that backdrop in order to conceive an »ethically oriented environmental poetics«. Thirdly, I will link the previous findings more widely to the tenets of what has recently gained traction as »postcritique«.

Candidate Name

E-Mail: krister.steffens@uni-wuerzburg.de

Project Start: 2021

Project Description

Fruit and vegetables are vegan. Or not? Anyone who follows the argumentation of actors in ‘vegan farming’ or ‘vegan agriculture’ will not be able to unreservedly affirm this statement. Due to the widespread use of animal fertilizers in agricultural production, most fruit and vegetable production is directly or indirectly part of livestock farming and therefore not vegan from a corresponding perspective. However, other practices that appear questionable in terms of vegan agriculture (e.g. the use of pesticides) have also been criticized. Accordingly, vegan agriculture opposes concepts of 'classic' organic or conventional agriculture with alternative understandings and practices.

This dissertation project approaches the topic of 'vegan agriculture' in the sense of cultural-anthropological research by using appropriate methods and theoretical approaches to develop, conceptualize and historically classify it. The aim is to examine how the concept of 'vegan agriculture' / 'vegan farming' developed, which systems of knowledge, discourses, actors and practices underlie this area of ​​phenomena and which cultural and social practices are brought about by them. Questions about agriculture, rural areas, diet and lifestyle, animal-human relationships, multispecies perspectives and various areas of ethics (e.g. environmental and animal ethics) play an important role.