CoHearence 01 – Melancholy, Mourning, and Environmental Thought: Part 1 Making Loss the Centre

Episode 01 – CoHearence 01 – Melancholy, Mourning, and Environmental Thought: Part 1 Making Loss the Centre [42:25]

Show Notes Image Agawa_Rock_1998

Photo: Edie Steiner, FES PhD Candidate,

Discussions about melancholy and mourning pop up in a wide range of disciplines. For scholars in environmental studies, understanding these concepts is important as we try to figure out how to deal with the unprecedented environmental losses of our time. In the first part of this two-part episode of CoHearence, we explore the history of melancholia and why it’s important for thinking about environmental issues. Faced with an increasing amount of environmental destruction and frightening levels of species extinction, we will ask how we might begin to learn to grieve the lost objects everywhere around us. Featuring professors Cate Sandilands and Peter Timmerman from the Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) at York University, and Susan Moore a part-time faculty member at FES and psychoanalytical candidate at the Toronto Psychoanalytical Institute, we’ll map out Freud’s thinking on mourning and melancholy and draw links to our current environmental state. If we think of our culture as a melancholic culture, how might we better understand commodity fetishism, the commodification of environmental loss, and where to go from here?

Works Cited

  • Braun, Bruce. The Intemperate Rainforest: Nature, Culture and Power on Canada’s West Coast. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002.
  • Butler, Judith. Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence. New York: Verso, 2004.
  • Eng, David L and David Kazanjian eds. Loss: The Politics of Mourning. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.
  • Freud, Sigmund. The Ego and the Id. 4th ed. London: Hogarth Press, 1947.
  • Freud, Sigmund. (1917). “Mourning and Melancholia.” In The Standard Edition of The Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIV (1914-1916) London: Hogarth Press, 1953. 237-258.
  • Kristeva, Julia. Black Sun. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989.
  • Morton, Timothy. The Ecological Thought. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 2010
  • Pensky, Max. Melancholy Dialectics: Walter Benjamin and the Play of Mourning. Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2001.
  • Radden, Jennifer ed. The Nature of Melancholy: From Aristotle to Kristeva. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
  • von Unwerth, Matthew. Freud’s Requiem: Mourning, Memory, and the Invisible History of a Summer Walk. London: Continuum Books, 2006.

Music Credits

Other Contributor(s): 
  • Sean Kheraj
  • Susan Moore
  • Cate Sandilands
  • Peter Timmerman

Di Battista, Amanda and Andrew Mark, “Melancholy, Mourning, and Environmental Thought: Part 1 Making Loss the Centre” CoHearence. 7 February 2012

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Sean Kheraj is an associate professor in the Department of History at York University. He researches and teaches in the areas of environmental and Canadian history. In addition to being a co-editor of, he is also the host and producer of Nature's Past, NiCHE's audio podcast series and he blogs at