Bodies of Knowledge

The Humanities Council sponsors the Bodies of Knowledge Working Group, whose purpose is to engage faculty, staff, and graduate students in questions around embodiment from a wide range of viewpoints including the medical humanities, disability studies, art history and aesthetics, and environmental studies in the Anthropocene. In particular, the group hopes to foster intellectual partnerships with those within and beyond the humanities who share a critical interest in exploring and expanding the multidisciplinary conversations surrounding bodies, their environs, and their representations.

In 2020-2021, with the support of the David A. Gardner ’69 Magic Project, the working group convened a two-day virtual symposium.

October 16-17, 2020

RUSSIA / JAPAN
RESIDUES, MATERIALITIES, ENVIRONMENTS: TRANS-DISCIPLINARY EXCHANGES

When the burgeoning field of the Environmental Humanities has addressed Russia and Japan together, it has almost exclusively been in connection with nuclear disasters and post-apocalyptic scenarios, with comparative studies of the Chernobyl and the Fukushima accidents (see the works of Kate Brown and Adriana Petryna, among others).

The symposium seeks to explore and expand the connections between those two cultures in their relationship with, understanding and articulation of environmental questions besides and beyond the last three decades and issues of nuclear energy. Organizers Elena Fratto (Slavic Languages and Literatures), Franz Prichard (East Asian Studies), and Ryo Morimoto (Anthropology) will convene a group of leading literary and media scholars of Japan and of Russia and the Soviet Union of different generations to promote exchange and generate new avenues of inquiry into natural catastrophe, food studies, sound studies, ocean studies, and the inescapable embeddedness of human organisms and human activity within the earth, nature, value systems, and the distribution of knowledge.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16

1:00 PM: INTRODUCTION AND OPENING REMARKS

1:30 PM: PANEL 1 – MEDIA AND MATERIALITIES

Jane Costlow (Bates College), “Arrivederci, Arctic: Marina Moskvina and the Cape Farewell Project.”

Craig Campbell (University of Texas, Austin),  “Flow & Form: Concrete as Elemental Media.“

Julia Alekseyeva (University of Pennsylvania), “Thinking Soviet: Dziga Vertov in the 1960s Japanese Political Avant-Garde.”

Jenifer Presto (University of Oregon), “Afterglow: Nabokov, Pompeii, and the Atomic Age.”

4:00 PM: KEYNOTE ADDRESS

Margherita Long (UC Irvine), “Biopolitical Critique Meets Growling Woman: Tsushima Yūko.”

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 17

12:00 PM: PANEL 2 – MICRO/MACRO: ENVIRONMENTS AND EPISTEMOLOGIES

Jon Pitt (UC Irvine), “The Entangled Histories of Abe Kōbō, Kliment Timiryazev, and The Life of the Plant.”

Tom Newlin (Oberlin College), “Worlds within Worlds: Ecology and Microscopy in Nineteenth-Century Russia.”

Sumiko Hatakeyama (University of Pennsylvania), “Residual Radiation: A People-Centered Approach to Radiation Studies.” 

Alec Brookes (Memorial University, Newfoundland), “Encountering the microbial: Reading Zamyatin’s We in Zoonotic Times.”

3:00 PM: PANEL 3 – METABOLISM: BODIES, ENERGY, WASTE

Colleen McQuillen (University of Southern California), “Entropy and Exhaustion in Russian Narratives of Donbass Metalworks at the Fin-de-siècle.”

Elena Fratto (Slavic Languages and Literatures), “Metabolic Modernities: Bodily Functions and Energy Transformation in Early Soviet Science Fiction and Children’s Literature.”

Isabel Lane (Boston College),”ICBMs, Hiroshima, and Global-Scale Violence in Thomas Pynchon and Viktor Pelevin.”

Eiko Maruko Siniawer (Williams College),”Unsettling Waste in 1970s Japan.” 

4:30 PM: FINAL DISCUSSION AND CLOSING REMARKS

Register in advance for the Friday meeting: https://princeton.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYtcO2orjkuGtzIPPHofjQ8wXclQe8rDpjD

Register in advance for the Saturday meeting: https://princeton.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJckdO2vrzIvH9JREx9nk2b8tTntm041Dwn7

Past meetings

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