Hannover, 12 – 14 October 2016
Roland Borgards | Catrin Gersdorf
Frederike Middelhoff | Sebastian Schönbeck
Within literary studies the question of animal agency has recently been reconsidered by means of the term ‘zoopoetics’, a theorem that refers to investigations of the agential potentials of animals in the production as well as the reception of texts. Yet literary texts do not ascribe agency only to animals. Other forms of life, such as plants and bacteria or even entire ecological systems and climate conditions can have agency as well. These phenomena are traditionally understood as part of the
human environment and, as such, are examined in the Environmental Humanities. Analogous to ‘zoopoetics’ in Cultural and Literary Animal Studies, the terms ‘ecopoetics’ and ‘environmental poetics’ have emerged as one of the central concepts in Ecocriticism and the Environmental Humanities. However, it is apparent that neither can animals be considered independent of their environments, nor can environments be understood as realms independent of the animals living in them. On the contrary, both spheres – animal and environment – can be conceived as constitutive of each other.
The symposium proposes to focus on the conceptual intersections between zoopoetics and environmental/eco-poetics. To what extent are the two concepts related to each other? And what are the epistemological gains and limits of juxtaposing zoo- and ecopoetics? In fact, we are not only interested in the question of why and how texts, animals and environments relate to and influence each other; we are also concerned with the possibilities and limits of a non-anthropocentric zoopoetics and environmental poetics.