Christine Marran - Professor of Japanese Literature and Cultural Studies, University of Minnesota
In this talk, Christine Marran, Professor of Japanese Literature and Cultural Studies at the University of Minnesota and co-convener for the UMN’s Environmental Humanities Initiative, will discuss how environmental phenomena associated with climate change inherently test the capacities of particular modes of writing and literary analysis. Starting with author Amitav Ghosh’s claim that the imaginary of the modern realist novel is incompatible with the representation of climate, Marran will discuss forms of Japanese writing to suggest how literary studies can address environmental issues in a range of literary forms.
Christine Marran is Professor of Japanese Literature and Cultural Studies at the University of Minnesota and Chair of the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. Her current research lies within the disciplinary frame of ecocriticism. Her most recent book, Ecology Without Culture (University of Minnesota Press, 2017) argues that environmental thinking requires a critique of cultural production. Introducing her concepts of the “biotrope,” “ethnic environmentalism,” and “obligatory storytelling,” Marran shows how cultural ideas, which work at a humanistic scale usually toward human interest, can impede our ability to speak about the more-than-human world. Her new materialist approach illustrates how ecocriticism can account for things smaller and greater than a selective humanist “we” only if it takes a critical position on cultural exceptionalism. Marran’s previous book, Poison Woman: Figuring the Transgressive Woman, investigates the powerful icon of the transgressive woman, its shifting meanings, and its influence on defining women’s sexuality and place from its inception in the 1870s. Gender continues to be an important element in her work for understanding the ways in which toxins and other material aspects of industrial culture impact bodies differently. She has also written numerous articles on environmental issues in literary and visual culture. Her current project, “First Person Animal” addresses the representation of animal being in literature and cinema.