"At Home in the World: Perspectives on a Changing Nature" Symposium

Thursday, April 25, 2019
11:30 AM - 6:00 PM (ET)
VCAM VCAM 106 Presentation Lounge
Event Type
Conference & Symposia
Fernandez, Noemi
Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities

 “At Home in the World: Perspectives Ancient and Modern on a Changing Nature”

Organized by Gabriel Sessions and Sara Grossman

Thursday, April 25, 2019

VCAM, Haverford College e

In her essay “Elegy for a Country’s Seasons,” Zadie Smith, one of the leading authors in contemporary fiction, laments that “there is the scientific and ideological language for what is happening to the weather, but there are hardly any intimate words.”

The “At Home in the World: Perspectives Ancient and Modern on a Changing Nature” symposium untangles the meaning of Smith’s call for “intimate words” and strives to answer it. It showcases student work that questions how we can imagine care, family, home, hospitality, kinship, justice, and, indeed, intimacy,  given the fragility, or the antagonism, or the simple interference of a nature many have understood as a setting secondary to human activity. Students will pose this question to contextualize, together, their own anxieties and meditations on environment in an age of climate change, with the aid of visiting experts, contemporary artists, and scholars in the environmental humanities. Together, we will also ask what comes next.

Projects on display will take many forms: a timeline will organize events from past human-earth encounters that speak to the long history of entanglements between humans and their environments, and reveal the constant struggle and stewardship that is part of the evolution of biospheric life on earth. A roundtable discussion of literary and musical evocations of environment will answer the question of how the non-human may speak to us when it becomes more than a background for human activity. And an evening of performances across the arts will transpose the intimacy Smith calls for into the utopian space in which performance affects reality with its “what if?,” involving audience and artist alike in a shared imagine of new possibilities.

For more information, contact Gabriel Sessions or Sara Grossman by emailing gsessions@haverford.edu or sgrossman1@brynmawr.edu

Supported by the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities’ Tuttle Creative Residencies Program, the Haverford College Department of English, and the Bryn Mawr College Department of Environmental Studies

 Schedule of Events 

All Events in VCAM Presentation Lounge unless otherwise noted

11:30- 1:00 p.m.Meditations on Environmental Time & Stewardship in the Anthropocene” | Sara Grossman, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, Bryn Mawr College Environmental Humanities 203

1:00- 2:30 pm: Lunch

2:30 - 4:00 p.m. “The Sound and Text of Climate Change” | Gabriel Sessions, Visiting Assistant Professor of English, Haverford College Environments in Literature and Music since 1900

Lydia Trigili, HC ’21 “From the End of the World: Electric Light Orchestra’s Time and a Retrofuturistic Approach to Environmental Catastrophe”

Fitz Dougherty, HC ’21 “Faulkner’s The Bear, an Elegy for Development in the Mississippi Woods

Angie Petrichenko, HC ’21 “What is a Tree? How an Arboretum Morphs the Definitions of Nature”

Shirin Sabety, BMC ’22 “Hyperabstract Painting and the Metaphysical Landscape”

Hanna Kopits, HC ’21 “Inspired by Watership Down: Animal Miniseries” for digital projection

4:00 p.m. Coffee Break

4:30-5:45 p.m. “Does the Cliff Have a Face?” | Plenary Talk by Paul Saint-Amour, Professor in the Humanities, University of Pennsylvania VCAM 201

7:00 p.m. At Home in the World | World Premiere

Composed by Scott Ordway

Performed by Aaron Stewart

with additional performances by students in “Environments in Literature and Music since 1900”

Ryan Totaro, HC ’22 “Once Upon a Time in Egdon Heath: Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native as Cinematic Western”

Domenic Bellino, HC ’21 “Yellow Tormentil and Purple Bloom,” for single performer

Lourdes Taylor, HC ’21, and Aszana Lopez-Bell “Integral,” for dance and solo violin

Joe Gentile, HC ’22 “An Animal’s Heartbeat,” for guitar and voice

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