An International Conference organised by CECILLE (Centre d'Etudes en Civilisations, Langues et Lettres Étrangères)
7-9 November 2019
Université de Lille SHS, France
Convened by: Thomas Dutoit (CECILLE), Sarah Jonckheere (CECILLE/IdA), and Laura Lainväe (EMMA)
Sarah Wood, co-editor and advisory board of OLR and Angelaki, UK
Jesse Oak Taylor, University of Washington, USA
Ursula K. Heise, UCLA, USA
Extinction is thus an event that is complex, multiple, and haunting, if only because of the ambivalent responses it draws forth. On the one hand, doomsayers express a self-annihilating desire for extinction and consider that humanity is fast-set on a fateful, timely death-course. On the other hand, eco-minded people still hope to find that railroad switch which would allow for a last-minute alteration of mankind’s trajectory. This desire for the quenching out of the human race, along with the concomitant attempts at averting the end, might be symptomatic of the very uncanniness and plurality of extinction itself.
One might argue that it is lack of thinking, and more importantly lack of thinking otherness (i.e.non-human species), coupled with a sinister capitalistic greed, that brought about the Anthropocene: indeed, as early as the Industrial Era, man’s inherently constitutive role in the fashioning of the then-discovered geological record became evident. Extinction was thereby written into our modern concept of time. Even as the concept of anthropogenic agency emerged, mankind’s invention of modern science, and especially evolution, had a gory impact upon animals, violently translating them into species and media through brutal processes of killing, excoriating, eviscerating, etc. (Jesse Oak Taylor).
As humans, we need to be aware of our power to rewrite the earth with pollution, overfarming, deforestation etc.; but we should not forget that we are not only the infamous influencers of the earth, but also the readers of the earth: reading the geological strata, reading fossils, reading animal traces, and reading the consequences of climate change.
- thinking extinction, extinction as possibility of impossibility, or impossibility of possibility
- ambivalence of extinction
- records and traces of extinction
- sensationality of extinction
- extinction and cinema
- climate change and extinction
- extinction and repetition
- literature, responsibility, and extinction
- extinction and responsibility
As Jesse Oak Taylor explains, “[i]n order for species to take shape, animals first had to become specimens. The “type” had to be abstracted from the individual life as that life was converted physically and violently into a sign (“Tennyson’s Elegy for the Anthropocene: Genre, Form, and Species Being.” Victorian Studies 58.2 : 224-233).