HomeThe Agency of Plants in the Literature and the Arts of the French- and English-Speaking Worlds (19th c. – 21st c.)

HomeThe Agency of Plants in the Literature and the Arts of the French- and English-Speaking Worlds (19th c. – 21st c.)

The Agency of Plants in the Literature and the Arts of the French- and English-Speaking Worlds (19th c. – 21st c.)

Puissances du végéter dans la littérature et les arts des mondes francophones et anglophones (XIXe-XXIe siècle)

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Published on Wednesday, January 25, 2023 by Céline Guilleux

Summary

We would like to invite contributors to rethink the agency of plants in the literature and arts of the anglophone and the francophone worlds from the nineteenth century to the present day. The aim of the conference is to reflect on the active role of plants in texts and visual representations, and think about the aesthetic, political, and epistemological implications of this form of agency. We will analyse the way in which plants act upon and with the human world from an anthrodecentric perspective. We will look at how plants can organise or disorganise our world, call into question established truths, and shape power relations, including political ones.

Announcement

Université Paris Cité, LARCA & Catholic University of Paris, 15-16 June 2023

Argument

The advent of the ‘plant turn’ (Myers 40) within science, philosophy and environmental humanities has challenged the anthropocentric and zoocentric view of plants as inert, passive objects deprived of senses or intelligence. Biologists (Chamovitz, Mancuso and Viola), botanists (Hallé), forest rangers (Wohlleben), anthropologists (Kohn, Myers), cultural geographers (Jones and Cloke), art historians and visual culture specialists (Aloi, Castro et al., Gibson, Keetley and Tenga), literary critics (Laist), artists, writers, and philosophers (Hall, Marder, Coccia, Burgat) have all been rethinking and reimagining the relations between humans and plants.  

In her recent publication entitled Foliage (Feuillages), art historian Clélia Nau draws on the Latin etymology of the active verb vegetare (to animate, enliven, grow), which does not only designate a form of ‘closed-off, idle existence,’ (Nau 16) […] as the adjective ‘vegetative’ would suggest. Following in her lead, we would like to invite contributors to rethink the agency of plants in the literature and arts of the anglophone and the francophone worlds from the nineteenth century to the present day. The aim of the conference is to reflect on the active role of plants in texts and visual representations, and think about the aesthetic, political, and epistemological implications of this form of agency. We will analyse the way in which plants act upon and with the human world from an anthrodecentric perspective. We will look at how plants can organise or disorganise our world, call into question established truths, and shape power relations, including political ones.

This conference situates itself at the heart of the interdisciplinary field of environmental humanities, and more specifically of Plants Humanities. We will rely on the pioneering ecocentric principles delineated by Lawrence Buell in The Environmental Imagination (1995) and further developed by anglophone and francophone ecocriticism in the fields of literature and art history (Braddock, Patrizio). We will also discuss the conceptual framing of the ‘nonhuman turn’ of ecology (Grusin) which started gathering pace in the 1990s (Descola; Bruno Latour and John Law’s Actor-Network Theory).

The conference welcomes contributions from researchers working in the fields of literature, history, art history, visual studies, film studies, cultural studies, philosophy, anthropology, and natural sciences. One of the goals of this conference will be to reflect on how anglophone and francophone theories approach the field of environmental and plant humanities.

Submission guidelines

Please submit abstracts of up to 300 words in English or in French, together with a short biographical note (no more than 150 words), to theagencyofplants@gmail.com

by March 15, 2023.

This conference is organised by members of the ‘Environmental Humanities’ research teams of the Research Laboratory on English-Speaking Cultures (LARCA - CNRS UMR 8225) of the Université Paris Cité and of the Catholic University of Paris (research unit ‘Religion, Culture & Society’, EA 7403).  The conference will take place on the Campus des Carmes of the Catholic University of Paris (74 rue de Vaugirard, 75006 Paris) on June 15th, and at the station d’écologie forestière de l’Université Paris Cité in Fontainebleau (Rte de la Tour Dénecourt, 77300 Fontainebleau) on June 16th

Organising committee

  • Laura Ouillon (Université Paris Cité)
  • Estelle Murail (ICP)
  • Delphine Louis-Dimitrov (ICP)

Bibliography

ALOI, Giovanni, ed. Botanical Speculations: Plants in Contemporary Art. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018.

ALOI, Giovanni, ed. Why Look at Plants? The Botanical Emergence in Contemporary Art. Leiden: Brill, 2019.

BRADDOCK, Alan C., and Christoph IRMSCHER, ed. A Keener Perception: Ecocritical Studies in American Art History. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2009.

BURGAT, Florence. Qu’est-ce qu’une plante ? Essai sur la vie végétale. Paris: Seuil, 2020.

CASTRO, Teresa, Perig PITROU, and Marie REBECCHI, ed. Puissance du végétal et du cinéma animiste. La Vitalité révélée par la technique. Dijon: Les Presses du réel, 2020.

CHAMOVITZ, Daniel. What a Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the Senses. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012.

COCCIA, Emanuele. La Vie des plantes: une métaphysique du mélange. Paris: Payot & Rivages, 2016. 

DESCOLA, Philippe. Par-delà nature et culture. Paris: Gallimard, 2005.

GIBSON, Prudence. The Plant Contract: Art’s Return to Vegetal Life. Leiden: Brill, 2018. 

GIBSON, Prudence, and BRITS Baylee, ed. Covert Plants: Vegetal Consciousness and Agency in an Anthropocentric World. Santa Barbara: Punctum Books, 2018.

GRUSIN, Richard. The Nonhuman Turn. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015.

HALL, Matthew. Plants as Persons: A Philosophical Botany. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2011.

JONES, Owain, and Paul J. CLOKE. Tree Cultures: The Place of Trees and Trees in Their Place. Oxford: Berg, 2002.

KEETLEY, Dawn, and Angela TENGA, ed. Plant Horror: Approaches to the Monstrous Vegetal in Fiction and Film. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.  

KOHN, Eduardo. How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Human. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013.

LAIST, Randy, ed. Plants and Literature: Essays in Critical Plant Studies. Leiden: Brill, 2013.  

MABEY, Richard. The Cabaret of Plants: Botany and the Imagination. London: Profile Books, 2016.

MANCUSO, Stefano, and Alessandra VIOLA. Brilliant Green: The Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence. Washington: Island Press, 2015.

MARDER, Michael. Plant-Thinking: A Philosophy of Vegetal Life. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013. 

MARDER, Michael, and Mathilde ROUSSEL. The Philosopher’s Plant: An Intellectual Herbarium. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014.

MYERS, Natasha. « Conversations on Plant Sensing: Notes from the Field ». NatureCulture 3 (2015): 35-66.

NAU, Clélia. Feuillages. L’Art et les puissances du végétal. Paris: Hazan, 2021.

PATRIZIO, Andrew. The Ecological Eye: Assembling an Ecocritical Art History. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2018.

VIEIRA, Patrícia, Monica GAGLIANO, and John Charles RYAN, ed. The Green Thread: Dialogues with the Vegetal World. London: Lexington Books, 2015.

ZHONG MENGUAL, Estelle. Apprendre à voir. Le Point de vue du vivant. Arles: Actes Sud, 2021.

Places

  • Campus des Carmes of the Catholic University of Paris, 4 rue de Vaugirard
    Paris, France (75006)
  • Station d’écologie forestière de l’Université Paris Cité in Fontainebleau - Rte de la Tour Dénecourt
    Fontainebleau, France (77)

Event format

Full on-site event


Date(s)

  • Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Keywords

  • végétal

Information source

  • Laura Ouillon
    courriel : theagencyofplants [at] gmail [dot] com

To cite this announcement

« The Agency of Plants in the Literature and the Arts of the French- and English-Speaking Worlds (19th c. – 21st c.) », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, January 25, 2023, https://calenda.org/1045606

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