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Cary Wolfe seminar: Wallace Stevens’ Birds and Ecological Poetics – Environmental Humanities @ UNSW

February 18, 2015 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm


Please note that places are limited at this event and we’re asking people to RSVP here.

Birds comprise one of the most storied figural sites in Anglo-American poetry-and particuarly in Romatic genealogy that runs from Keats nightingale, Shelley’s skylark, and Poe’s raven to the birds that appear centrally in many of Wallace Steven’s most important poems. Drawing primarily on the work of Niklas Luhmann and Jacques Derrida, this talk will explore how in the bird topos of Stevens, the lines of animal studies and posthumanisim cross in a way that subordinates the problem of the animal other to a more radically inhuman or ahuman otherness that is not limited to animal and human bodies, but in fact (if we believe Luhmann and Derrida) “traverses the life/death relation” (to use Deridda’s phrase). And this, in tandem with Derrida’s speculations on Heidegger and Defoe in The Beast and the Sovereign, enables us to understand the peculiar quality of Stevens’ “ecological” poetics.

Cary Wolfe is Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor of English and the founding Director of the Center of Critical and Cultural Theory at Rice University. His work focuses on various topics such as animal studies and posthumanism, systems theory and pragmatism, biopolitics and biophilosophy, and American literature and culture.

Event location: The event is being held in the Rupert Myers Theatre at UNSW, off of Barker Street. The Rupert Myers Theatre is adjacent to the Old Main Building.