New Climes: Critical Theory, Environmentalism, and Climate Change

June 13th 2011

Confirmed plenary speakers:
Ian Buchanan (Cardiff University)
Claire Colebrook (Penn State University)
Timothy Morton (UC-Davis)

Climate change is an unprecedented crisis in human history. It is marked by necessary scientific imprecision and met by public confusion and controversy. Discerning climate change involves intricate scientific problems, and responding demands complex cultural strategies, spanning global, historically unprecedented action. Even as scientists, politicians, activists, and publics have struggled to respond, climate change has also begun to provoke cultural innovation and political audacity. Correspondingly, then, this cultural phenomenon of climate change might require a re-adjustment of critical approaches and methods.
Climate change asks of cultural critics and theorists nothing more nor less than a re-evaluation of ourselves. In a day-long symposium, we will explore the relationship between climate change and critical theory. How do critical concepts like power, ideology, mediation, capital, colonialism, gender, oppression, society, and construction help us to understand the challenges presented by climate change? Does the current crisis wrought by anthropocentric climate change challenge or affirm the assumptions that underpin cultural critical theory—and to what extent? Can we respond—and, if so, how—through now established critical modes, such as those signalled by deconstruction, post-structuralism, genre theory, psychoanalysis, Marxism, and science studies, or those practised under the rubrics of, among others, Agamben, Badiou, Butler, Deleuze, Derrida, Foucault, Habermas, Latour and Žižek? Or does climate change demand a new kind of theory?

We invite proposals for papers that address any aspect of the relationship between critical theory and climate change. Proposals should be 200 words long, for presentations of 30 minutes. Please email proposals to the co-organisers, Dr. Adeline Johns-Putra ( and Dr. Adam Trexler (, by 31st March 2011. We will be seeking to publish symposium proceedings, to be edited by Adeline Johns-Putra, and Adam Trexler.


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