Heyman Center for the Humanities, Second Floor Common Room
Speaker: Anne-Lise François, Associate Professor, Departments of English and Comparative Literature, University of California at Berkeley
If the Anthropocene names the geological epoch defined by the radically destabilizing effects of human activity on geophysical processes, this talk asks about the continued relevance of other, relatively unchanged seasonal cycles and patterns of fluctuating intensities and regulated dearth and abundance (both cultural and geophysical). According to recent work on the Anthropocene, petro-extraction economies have messed up our relationship to the sun by liberating capital from dependence on the “yield of present photosynthesis” (Andreas Malm). At a time when climate scientists are declaring the end of “seasonality,” and when technology appears to have caught up with lyric’s power to expand and compress, accelerate and distort the diurnal rhythms determined by the earth’s relation to the sun, I turn toward the moon and the micro-seasons afforded by its monthly cycles as well as to other comparably stable, cultural modes of distributing abundance and scarcity across time. What is to be gained by opening up the concept of seasonality to these pluralizing, supplemental seasons within seasons, and what healing powers might they still afford?
About the Series:
As a set of disciplines, the humanities face the challenge of how to write about embodied experiences that resist easy verbal categorization such as illness, pain, and healing. The recent emergence of interdisciplinary frameworks such as narrative medicine goes some way to address these challenges. Yet conceptualizing a field of medical humanities also offers a broader umbrella under which to study the influence of medico-scientific ideas and practices on society. Whether by incorporating material culture such as medical artefacts, performing symptomatic readings of poems and novels, or excavating the implicit medical assumptions underlying auditory cultures, the approaches that emerge from a historiographical or interpretive framework are different from those coming from the physician’s black bag.
Sponsored by The Society of Fellows in the Humanities, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and the Center for Science and Society.