New Books in the Arts & Sciences:
Celebrating Recent Work by Jennifer Wenzel
The Disposition of Nature: Environmental Crisis and World Literature
By: Jennifer Wenzel
How do literature and other cultural forms shape how we imagine the planet, for better or worse? In this rich, original, and long awaited book, Jennifer Wenzel tackles the formal innovations, rhetorical appeals, and sociological imbrications of world literature that might help us confront unevenly distributed environmental crises, including global warming.The Disposition of Nature argues that assumptions about what nature is are at stake in conflicts over how it is inhabited or used. Both environmental discourse and world literature scholarship tend to confuse parts and wholes. Working with writing and film from Africa, South Asia, and beyond, Wenzel takes a contrapuntal approach to sites and subjects dispersed across space and time. Reading for the planet, Wenzel shows, means reading from near to there: across experiential divides, between specific sites, at more than one scale.
Impressive in its disciplinary breadth, Wenzel’s book fuses insights from political ecology, geography, anthropology, history, and law, while drawing on active debates between postcolonial theory and world literature, as well as scholarship on the Anthropocene and the material turn. In doing so, the book shows the importance of the literary to environmental thought and practice, elaborating how a supple understanding of cultural imagination and narrative logics can foster more robust accounts of global inequality and energize movements for justice and livable futures.
About the Author:
Jennifer Wenzel is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University. She is the author of Bulletproof: Afterlives of Anticolonial Prophecy in South Africa and Beyond and, most recently, The Disposition of Nature: Environmental Crisis and World Literature, among other published works.
About the Speakers:
Mary Louise Pratt is a retired Professor at New York University. Among her published works, she is the author of Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation and co-editor of Critical Passions: Collected Essays of Jean Franco with Kathleen Newman.
Eleanor Johnson is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She is the author of Dramatizing Contemplation: Participatory Theology in Middle English Prose, Verse, and Drama; and Practicing Literary Theory in the Late Middle Ages: Ethics and the Mixed Form in Chaucer, Gower, Usk, and Hoccleve, among other published works.
Elizabeth Povinelli is Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University. She is the author of Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism; Economies of Abandonment: Social Belonging and Endurance in Late Liberalism; and The Empire of Love: Toward a Theory of Intimacy, Genealogy, and Carnality, among other published works.
Mamadou Diouf is Leitner Family Professor of African Studies at Columbia University and Director of the Columbia University’s Institute for African Studies. Among his recently published works, he has edited Tolerance, Democracy, and Sufis in Senegal; and co-edited New Perspectives on Islam in Senegal: Conversion, Migration, Wealth, and Power with Mara Leichtman.