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Area X: Environmental Storytelling in the Age of Trump and the Anthropocene (DePaul)
April 19, 2017 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Wednesday, April 19th, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Location: McGowan South, first floor (Room 108), 110 W. Belden Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614
Jeff VanderMeer’s NYT bestselling and critically acclaimed Southern Reach Trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance) explores ecological and global warming issues through the lens of the mysterious Area X, a pristine wilderness separated from the rest of the world by an invisible but potent barrier. In some sense, Area X is to humans as humans are to animals, a laboratory for interrogation of human inconsistency and absurdity within a Baudrillardian hegemony.
The attempts of scientists and the government to uncover the mystery behind Area X allow VanderMeer to engage in what the New Yorker called “experiments in weird nature writing…and meditations on the theme of epistemic pessimism, in the tradition of Kafka.” These meditations, as noted by the Los Angeles Review of Books, evoke Timothy Morton’s idea of “hyperobjects,” as applied to a “collapsitarianism” that comments on the Dark Mountain movement, among others. A critical and commercial success, the Southern Reach defines the post-human as a posing of questions in the context of a coming post-Anthropocene era.
VanderMeer’s talk ranges from the political to the personal, dissecting the death-wish impulses of the Trump administration and the role of Manifest Destiny and junk science in calamities like the Malheur Refuge occupation and the environmental policies of Florida governor Rick Scott. This in a context of his own personal connection to the Florida wilderness. He will also push past the dystopic implications of the current era to explore positive and optimistic ways to confront our future. Acceptance of status quo is not an option.
Sponsored by LAS, CSH, the DePaul Institute for Nature & Culture,
and the DePaul Humanities Center