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Conference Schedule

The EMC is pleased to announce the schedule for the “EcoMaterialisms: Organizing Life and Matter” graduate conference. Participants represent eleven different disciplinary backgrounds from just as many universities and while we soon wished we had planned for a two-day event after the number of excellent submissions we received, we think we have managed to put together a strong and intellectually stimulating lineup. Click on the paper titles to view the abstracts.

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Humanities Gateway 1030, UC Irvine

Friday, May 15, 2015

730am — Breakfast

800am-920am — Untimely Meditations: Wandering in the Histories of Materialism

Michael Berlin, UC Irvine Classics/Comparative Literature, On the Use and Abuse of History for Thought and Matter

Alexander McAdams, Rice University English, “His will though free, Yet Mutable”: Materialist Wandering and the Lucretian Model of Desire in Milton’s Paradise Lost

Shyam Patel, UC Irvine English, All for Nothing: Materiality, Utility, and Normativity in Bataille and Marx’s Critiques of Political Economy

 930am-1050am Eco-Aesthetics: Queer Ecologies, Inhuman Objects, and Geo-Memory

Finley Freibert, UC Irvine Visual Studies, Plastic Pastoral

Baron Haber, UC Santa Barbara English, “How good to eat!”: Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, Queer Ecology, and the Eco-Aesthetic of Metamorphosis

Victoria Saramago, Stanford Iberian and Latin American Cultures, The Mimetic Materiality of Pedro Páramo

Jess Ziegenfuss, UC Irvine Visual Studies, Mad Prometheus: Energy Futurism in Inhumanly Collaborative Objects

 1100am-1220pm — Biopolitics: Law and Resistance

Bridget Glenn, SFSU Women and Gender Studies, The Intersection of New Materialism and the Prison Industrial Complex: Neoliberalism, Justice, Criminality and Prison Building

Crystal Hickerson, UC Irvine Comparative Literature, Becoming-Fairy: Targeting Everyday Life in the UC Global Food Initiative 

Andrew Johnson, UC Santa Barbara Political Science, A Manifesto of Resistance: There Is No Alternative but the Im-possibility of An-other World

1220pm-100pm — Catered Lunch for Conference Participants

100pm-220pmAnd Say the Body Responded? Zones of Corporeal Indistinction

Chun Wai Chau, UC Davis Cultural Studies, “From My Bedroom Thousands of Miles from Here”: Environmental Debilitation and the Material Objects of Sleeplessness

James R. Goebel, UC Irvine Comparative Literature, Organism it never is”: Tracking the Body (without Organs)

Andy Murray, UC Santa Cruz Sociology, Meat Cultures: The Media and Mess of Making “Just Meat” Matter

 230pm-350pm — Eco-Poetics: Reflections on Unruly Matters

Ana Baginski, UC Irvine Comparative Literature, A Shameful Return: On the Pastoral and Poetic Agency

Danilo Caputo, UC Irvine English, Fluid Matter: Reading the Global Ocean in Shakespearean Locales

Andrew Johnson, University of Virginia English, Reading the Unspeakable: Responding to Material Bodies in the Textual Bogs of Seamus Heaney

Judith Levy, Emory University Comparative LiteratureThe Responsibility of a Diffracted Memory: Water, Diaspora and Intra-Relations in M. NourbeSe Philip and Karen Barad 

400pm-520pm — Thinking with Matter

Marie McDonald, UC Davis Anthropology, Fractured Flows: Anticipating Ambiguity through Disaster Preparedness

John Moran, Stanford Anthropology, The Muddy Anthropocene: Defiguration and Liberal Biodiversity in the Florida Panhandle

David Thompson, UC Berkeley Anthropology, What in the Blue Hell? The Material Tactics of Protest

Christopher Walker, UC Santa Barbara English, Romance and Radioactivity: H.G. Wells at the Limits of Materiality

530pm-700pm — Keynote

Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University, The Fossils and the Bones

This talk critically encounters two strands of the new materialism — speculative realism and object-oriented-ontology — through the geontological analytics of my contemporary Indigenous colleagues. The talk begins on the edge of a reef in the Top End of Australia in the midst of ongoing settler colonial liberalism and then turns to the work of Quentin Meillassoux, Graham Harman, and others in order to ask a series of questions: How is the emergence of the new materialism merely a symptom of a broader collapse of biopower best analyzed from the edge of a reef in settler colonialism rather than the spine of Kantian philosophy? How are the attributes of objects in the new fundamental ontology infected by the end of biopower and its biontological imaginary? As philosophy reclaims ontology what roles are assigned to those who differ in the manner in which entities are thought and practiced?

700pm Open Reception in HG 1030


Steven Shaviro: “Whitehead and Speculative Realism” at UC Irvine

Lecture by Professor Steven Shaviro titled “Whitehead and Speculative Realism” at UC Irvine on January 16, 2015.

This event presented by the UC Irvine EcoMaterialisms Collective with sponsorship from: the departments of Comparative Literature, English, Spanish & Portuguese, Visual Studies, and Classics; the Humanities Commons and Critical Theory Emphasis at UC Irvine; and the journal Postmodern Culture.

Keynote and Deadline Extension


We are very excited to announce that Elizabeth A. Povinelli will be delivering the keynote address for “EcoMaterialisms: Organizing Life and Matter.” Dr. Povinelli is Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University. Here is a description of her research interests:

“My writing has focused on developing a critical theory of late liberalism that would support an anthropology of the otherwise. My first two books examine the governance of the otherwise in late liberal settler colonies from the perspective of the politics of recognition. My last two books examined the same from the perspective of intimacy, embodiment, and narrative form. My ethnographic analysis is animated by a critical engagement with the traditions of American pragmatism and continental immanent theory.”

Furthermore, the deadline for individual and panel submissions has been extended to Friday, January 30, 2015.

Steven Shaviro, “Whitehead and Speculative Realism”


In addition to the Spring conference, the UC Irvine EcoMaterialisms Collective has organized a distinguished public lecture with Professor Steven Shaviro, author of Without Criteria: Kant, Whitehead, Deleuze and Aesthetics (2009) and The Universe of Things: On Speculative Realism (2014). In addition to his public lecture, Professor Shaviro will participate in a seminar-style discussion with interested graduate students (more info on this event to come). Here is Shaviro’s description of his talk:

The various strands of thought grouped under the rubric of “speculative realism” are quite distinct from one another. But they all share an opposition to anthropocentrism and to what Quentin Meillassoux has called the “correlationism” of post-Kantian philosophy. And they also share a commitment to renewed metaphysical speculation as a way of exploring what Meillassoux calls “the great outdoors,” or what Eugene Thacker has called “the world without us.” In these ways, speculative realism communicates with the work of Alfred North Whitehead, a thinker from an earlier time who is otherwise quite unlike them. My talk, taking off from the concerns of my recent books Without Criteria and The Universe of Things, compares and contrasts the speculative realists with one another, and with Whitehead, as a way to consider what these strands of thoughts might have to tell us about life in the Anthropocene.

Call for Papers

EcoMaterialisms: Organizing Life and Matter

University of California, Irvine

Friday 15th May 2015

Keynote: Elizabeth A. Povinelli (Columbia University, Anthropology)

“EcoMaterialisms: Organizing Life and Matter” will bring interdisciplinary graduate work to  bear on the ongoing critical discussions grouped under the umbrella of “new materialisms.” While what exactly these new materialisms might be or look like remains a vitally open question, this conference is an attempt to map a number of conceptual coordinates that give this emergent field of inquiry some consistency. As Diana Coole and Samantha Frost write in the introduction to their edited collection on new  materialism, “If we persist in our call for an observation of a new materialism, it is because we  are aware that unprecedented things are currently being done with and to matter, nature, life,  production, and reproduction. It is in this contemporary context that theorists are compelled to  rediscover older materialist traditions while pushing them in novel, and sometimes experimental,  directions or toward fresh applications.”

While reconfiguring materiality and our relations to environments has significantly opened the scope of our theoretical engagements, there remains in this same gesture the risk of ignoring other potential lines of thought and practice. “EcoMaterialisms” is intended to open a forum for thinking through these possibilities and their attendant problems. Submissions may address the following topics, but are by no means limited to:

  • Philosophical approaches to new materialism
  • New materialism: problems and limitations
  • Ecocriticism, ecopoetics, and other practices of reading
  • Biopolitics: governing life and matter
  • Postcolonial studies and the politics of location
  • Indigeneities and new materialist thought
  • Environmentalism and political praxis
  • New materialism and theories of race
  • Material feminisms and gender and sexuality studies
  • Animal and/or posthumanist studies
  • Materiality in the arts and a material aesthetics
  • Corporeality and modes of embodiment
  • Historical materialism and revivals of other materialist traditions
  • New materialism in visual, sonic, and digital media
  • New materialism and Speculative Realism

We are accepting abstracts for individual presentations as well as panel proposals for 3-4 presenters. Individual abstracts should be no more than 300 words and include your name and  institutional affiliation. Panel proposals should be no more than 750 words and include a  description of the panel topic and title as well as the names and institutional affiliations of each  participant. Submit abstracts and proposals to by  Friday, January 30th, 2015. Travel funds may be available for participants.