Calendar of Events

Spring 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012
Frieda Knobloch (American Studies, Wyoming)
Remaking Environmental Studies: Excavating Bedrock and Creating Formations
3:30 pm Curtin 118

Contemporary environmental crisis and its discourses are pressing enough to have informed at least one whole book on our saturation in the matter: Frederick Buell’s From Apocalypse to Way of Life: Environmental Crisis in the American Century (2003). The environmental discourse that has emerged as legitimate in addressing present crisis—whether in the effects of climate change, or fragmented animal migration routes, or the dangers of hydraulic fracturing in natural gas production—is primarily scientific. Environmental Studies as a field reflects this orientation. It is pleased to expose students to humanistic expressions and approaches, and certainly ethics, but in the end it is their ability to inhabit essentially scientific approaches (even to humanistic concerns, like the cultural values that they may have to document for a federal environmental assessment) that secures their employment and makes them sound like accomplished young professionals ready to solve the problems of our time.

There has, at the same time, been a tremendous intellectual backlash against thoughtless “scientism,” and, in popular and political cultures, against the premise that science is at all valid in describing our world. For this talk, Frieda Knobloch uses geology, in relation to desert environments, to sketch the imperative of remaking environmental studies and understanding in this era from the ground up, and proposes alternative legitimacies in both environmental understanding and discourse.

Boar's Tusk, Wyoming Boar’s Tusk, Rock Springs, Wyoming. Photo: Bureau of Land Management.

Recommended background readings for the talk:

Charles Lyell, Principles of Geology, volume 1, chapters 1–5, available online through Electronic Scholarly Publishing (ESP).

Frieda Knobloch, Botanical Companions: A Memoir of Plants and Place (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2005). Google preview.

Frieda Knobloch is an associate professor of American Studies at the University of Wyoming. She is the author of The Culture of Wilderness: Agriculture as Colonization in the American West (1996) and Botanical Companions: A Memoir of Plants and Place (2005), about Wyoming botanists Ruth and Aven Nelson. Currently she is working on a cultural and environmental history of Wyoming’s Red Desert. She also teaches on American cultural diversity and changing ideas about nature and the environment in the United States.

Brown bag lunch with Frieda Knobloch
Friday, February 10, 2012
12 noon Curtin 939
Reading: "Specimens" and "Album" from Frieda Knobloch, Botanical Companions


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