I will be offering a public lecture and teaching a graduate student seminar as part of the Tallinn University Winter School, in Tallinn, Estonia. My public lecture on January 23rd will be on:
“The Matter of Humans: Putting Nature Back Into Culture Through the Environmental Humanities”
For much of the previous century, culture has often been defined in opposition to nature, a tendency that only deepened as the cultural and linguistic turns came to stress the centrality of human discourse in shaping and perhaps even creating reality. More recently, however, new scientific and humanistic insights have begun to suggest a far more complex view of culture, one predicated on two key propositions. First, that human bodies and minds are much more deeply embedded in the natural material world than previously believed. And second, that this natural material world is much more dynamic and creative than previously understood. These propositions, if accurate, together suggest a compelling need to develop what we might term a post-anthropocentric “deep culture” that emerges not in distinction from a passive nature, but rather with and through a dynamic nature. This radical new understanding of what it means to be human logically demands a new humanism, and the environmental humanities, post-humanism, and neo-materialism are pointing the way.