The 2015 workshop of the Postgraduate Forum Environment, Literature, Culture was hosted 11–12 Dec. by the Environmental Humanities Laboratory, based in the Division of History of Science, Technology and the Environment, at KTH, Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. This year’s theme was “Environmental Utopias and Dystopias as Forms of Resistance, Oppression and Liberation.” Before the official start of the workshop participants had the opportunity to visit the Stockholm Royal Seaport development (Norra Djurgårdsstaden). The excursion was not just a great opportunity for participants to meet informally, but also sparked interesting conversation about the planning, implementation and marketing of ‘sustainable’ projects.
The workshop itself kicked off with the welcome speech of the EHL director Marco Armiero and the key note address by Adeline Johns-Putra, English Reader at the University of Surrey and former ASLE-UKI president, on “Climate Change Fiction and the Problem of Posterity.” Adeline’s presentation surveyed recently-published climate change fiction, and specifically considered the idea that literature provides an ethical space for the exploration of affective dilemmas. She concentrated on the representation of the child in climate change fiction as a metonym for the future. Sverker Sörlin, professor of environmental history at the Division, then responded to her presentation, before the floor was opened for comments and questions.
During the next sessions feedback was given on ten drafts submitted by participants, and four posters were also presented. The topics spanned quite a wide variety of disciplines, approached from a broadly-speaking environmental humanities angle: some participants analysed historical environmental practices and issues such as the legal status of the commons, while others looked at the representation of environmental utopias (and dystopias) in literature, film, visual and performance arts, or considered utopian practices such as botanical collection, activism, and environmental justice. The workshop concluded with a presentation by Kati Lindström on publication strategies (based on her experience as editor of the journal Sign System Studies).
Although English was the working language of the workshop, I feel that the variety of contexts presented in the papers (and represented by participants) somewhat challenged Anglophone hegemony in a positive way. Inspiring discussion carried over to breaks and lunches, and I truly appreciate ending 2015 in this way.
Finally, on behalf of the participants, I would like to thank Isabel Pérez and the rest of the organising committee for a productive two days!
~ Marinette Grimbeek, Karlstad University, Sweden
14 participants attended the ELC workshop this December (we had a full workshop, unfortunately one participant had to cancel her attendance last minute due to personal circumstances). Participants to the workshop are currently based in: Denmark, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.
The organising committee was formed by Marco Armiero (EHL Director), Anna Svensson (PhD candidate), Kati Lindström (postdoctoral fellow), Susanna Lidström (postdoctoral fellow) and myself (Isabel Pérez―PhD candidate).
I would like to thank EASLCE for their academic and economic support (which covered the key-note travel and accommodation expenses). I would also like to thank Nina Worms and the Division of History of Science, Technology and the Environment at KTH, and Marco Armiero, and the Environmental Humanities Laboratory, for accepting to host the workshop in the premises of the Division, and for providing us with generous funding (which allowed us to cover the travel expenses of those participants without university or third-party funding, as well as the light lunches, some refreshments and the poster-printing costs). I would also like to thank Adeline Johns-Putra for kindly accepting our invitation to give the key note address, and Sverker Sörlin for his response.
Finally, I would like to thank my colleagues and co-organizers, who helped make this workshop happen: Marco, Anna, Kati and Susanna.
~ Mª Isabel Pérez-Ramos, PhD Candidate, KTH Royal Institute of Technology