What does it mean to read and study language, literature, and culture in our current location? This question is at the heart of the “Oecologies” project (http://oecologies.com/). Based at UBC in the English Department, many of the cluster’s founding collaborators teach and conduct research in the environmental Humanities.
Collectively, we explore an array of discourses about “oecology” (an older spelling for “ecology”) to determine what conceptual resources from the literary past might help us productively reimagine contemporary perceptions of environmental crisis and to articulate the relevance of English studies to matters as pressing as climate change and sustainability. As teachers and students on the unceded traditional territory of Musqueam peoples, at UBC, in western Canada, and on the Pacific Coast, we frame our investigations into the literary past in ways that respect the multivalent coordinates of our current location and its complex relations to other places across the globe. We have partners from nearby and faraway institutions (from Simon Fraser University to the University of Cape Town) who study different literary traditions and have expertise in a range of sub-disciplines, from theatre to water management. “Oecologies” thus aims to initiate environmentalist conversations that are both literary and multi-disciplinary in nature – always a challenge! – and that insist on making UBC a more mindful place.
– Vin Nardizzi, Associate Professor