Cross-Pollination: Seeding New Ground for Environmental Thought and Activism across the Arts and Humanities

Event Date: Mar 24 2011 – Mar 27 2011
Venue: University of Alberta
City: Edmonton
Country: Canada
Primary Contact Name: Lisa Szabo and Liza Piper
Contact Email: lszabo@ualberta.ca
Registration Deadline: Feb 11 2011

This collaborative and interdisciplinary workshop brought together Canadian experts (historians, writers, literary critics, curators, environmental consultants, and visual artists) in the production and interpretation of text and visual imagery to better understand how such media enable us to know and then act on behalf of places in more sustainable and ethical ways. The places in question are Western Canadian places, including desert, prairie, mountain, and coastal environments.

Workshop FormatThe objectives of this workshop were two-fold:First, we aimed to bring together scholars and creative producers working in the Arts and Humanities to engage in conversations that bridge disciplinary or media-based boundaries in how they think and engage with nature and Western Canadian places. Second, to help focus these conversations, we asked that participants speak from pre-circulated materials, some of which we aim to publish in a final edited collection which will reflect not just the breadth of workshop participants, but also the positive influence of our conversations. Two plenary roundtables were open to the public:

  • Endangered Native Grasslands: Three talks and a conversation – “prairie ponderings” – between Trevor Herriot, Sharon Butala, and Bill Waiser. As large scale agriculture, urban and resource development, and climate change diminish Canada’s native prairie grasslands, greater understanding emerges of what we are losing — not only the habitats and the creatures who depend on those ecosystems for survival, but also our connections with the natural world. During this evening, the speakers will explore questions of our historical relationships to the natural world, a call for changed perceptions, and how to cultivate and communicate new, creative relationships with the environment.
  • Writing Home and Indigenous Thought: “Writing Home and Indigenous Thought” brings together Deanna Reder and Warren Cariou for an evening of two talks and a conversation that challenges Western assumptions of Native representation concerning urbanity and human waste. Warren Cariou, author and film documentarist, teaches Aboriginal Literature at the University of Manitoba, and Deanna Reder, co-editor of Troubling Tricksters: Revisioning Critical Conversations, teaches in the First Nations Studies Program and English Department at Simon Fraser University. NiCHE reception to follow.

AcknowledgmentsThe Cross-Pollination workshop organisers would like to acknowledge the support of the following organizations for making this workshop possible:

programme
thursday plenary posters
saturday plenary poster

Archived Presentations

NiCHE has archived 17 presentations from this event.

Citation: Nicholas Bradley “Poetry, Science, and Knowledge of Place: A Dispatch from the Coast” Cross-Pollination: Seeding New Ground for Environmental Thought and Activism across the Arts and Humanities. 25 March 2011.
Bio: Bradley is an Assistant Professor, Department of English, University of Victoria.
Abstract: The paper begins by examining the degree to which literary ecocriticism has been invested in interdisciplinarity and environmentalist praxis. It then proposes links between aesthetic conceptions of literary knowledge and knowledge of place. The paper concludes by analyzing poems by David Wagoner, Don McKay, and Rita Wong that offer versions of the contemporary Pacific Northwest.

Citation: Richard Pickard “Whatever Else, Climate Change is Freedom: Frontier Mythologies, the Carbon Imaginary, and BC Coastal Forestry Novels” Cross-Pollination: Seeding New Ground for Environmental Thought and Activism across the Arts and Humanities. 26 March 2011.
Bio: Pickard is a Senior Instructor, Department of English, University of Victoria.
Abstract: Climate change is already having significant effects on forest species composition and forest health in British Columbia, as in other regions. The consequences for human communities and economies that depend on the forests are not yet as significant, but it seems likely that they will become so within the next decade. How can those with economic connections to BC’s forests respond to climate change, and can any lessons be taken from early 20th-century fiction set inside the logging industry?

Citation: Travis Mason “Seeding Co-ordinates, Planting Memories: Here, There, and Elsewhere in WH New’s Underwood Log” Cross-Pollination: Seeding New Ground for Environmental Thought and Activism across the Arts and Humanities. 25 March 2011.
Bio: Mason is the Killam Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of English, Dalhousie University.
Abstract: Questions about “here” abound in Canadian literary history, from Northrop Frye’s famous “Where is here?” to Tim Lilburn’s meditative “how to be here?” WH New’s book-length poem Underwood Log (2004) takes these fundamental Canadian questions about place and reiterates them historically, lyrically, and playfully, evoking the form of a travel log with entries documenting and meditating on the notion of “here.” Three groups of entries, which are indicated by latitude and longitude co-ordinates, indicate different ways of thinking “here” in New’s poem.

Citation: Jenny Kerber “Of Birds, Buds, and Borders: Reading and Writing the Transnational Environment in Jim Lynch’s Border Songs” Cross-Pollination: Seeding New Ground for Environmental Thought and Activism across the Arts and Humanities. 25 March 2011.
Bio: Kerber is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Abstract: Borders are places of division, conversion, identity, and question. For many, borders are also places where stories and status are woven and frayed. Lines drawn across land and water can seem more symbolic than actual. Kerber discusses the setting of Jim Lynch’s novel Border Songs, the Canada-US border zone of the Pacific Northwest. Lynch’s novel is a group of stories about nature, culture, nation, and the lines that are being drawn and redrawn among them. Kerber argues that non-state actors in the novel, namely marijuana, human migrants and migratory birds, might help us to think through questions of ecological and national security among the border of British Columbia and Washington.

Citation: Lyndal Osborne “Creating Metaphors for Change in the Big Picture” Cross-Pollination: Seeding New Ground for Environmental Thought and Activism across the Arts and Humanities. 25 March 2011.
Bio: Osborne is a professional artist.
Abstract: Osborne has been exhibiting in Canada and internationally since the early 1970s and has shown in over 350 exhibitions. Her installation work speaks of the forces of transformation within nature, as well as commenting upon pressing issues relating to the environment. In her recent work Osborne has focused on an examination of the issues of genetically modified organisms for subject matter. Osborne discusses her art work, including Shoalwan: River Through Fire, River of Ice (2003), Endless Forms Most Beautiful (2006), and ab ovo (2008). For more information, visit her webpage.

Citation: Lauren Wheeler “Photo-Essays and Student Environmental Activism at the University of Victoria, 1973-79” Cross-Pollination: Seeding New Ground for Environmental Thought and Activism across the Arts and Humanities. 25 March 2011.
Bio: Wheeler is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History, University of Alberta.
Abstract: In September 1973 the University of Victoria student newspaper, The Martlet, began featuring photo-essays in its supplementary arts magazine, which focused almost exclusively on the natural world. This was at a time when the university was establishing an environmental studies program, and constructing new buildings to house a growing student body. Simultaneously, student environmental activism was increasing, expressed through local conservationist efforts. Wheeler focusses on the visual and textual content of The Martlet through this decade as a means of gauging and understanding the nature of student environmental activism at the University of Victoria.

Citation: Nancy Holmes “Sustaining Collaboration: The Woodhaven Eco Art Project” Cross-Pollination: Seeding New Ground for Environmental Thought and Activism across the Arts and Humanities. 25 March 2011.
Bio: Holmes is an Associate Professor, Department of Creative Studies, University of British Columbia Okanagan
Abstract: Holmes discusses the Woodhaven Eco Art Project, a community-based, multi-disciplinary collaboration of artists, students and fine arts faculty members. Over 50 people created work over an eight month period in 2010 in a nature preserve in the Central Okanagannin British Columbia. A film, a catalogue and a website showcase the art that was produced. Holmes talks about the art and the issues that arose out of this collaboration, issues around artistic agency and the use of community-based and artist-based practice to develop a new level of attention, knowledge, and stewardship about the conservation of unique landscapes and ecosystems in an ecologically troubled and development-threatened region of Canada.

Citation: Sarah deLeeuw (co-authored with Deborah Thien) “Cross-Pollination in Place and in Practice: Creative Arts and the Humanities in Medicine” Cross-Pollination: Seeding New Ground for Environmental Thought and Activism across the Arts and Humanities. 25 March 2011
Bio: DeLeeuw is an Assistant Professor, Health Sciences, University of Northern British Columbia
Abstract: The paper is anchored strongly in burgeoning discussions about narrative medicine and considers a future of medicine in which physicians (particularly general practitioners in rural environments but also specialists and those in service-rich locations) are schooled in and deploy a host of lessons derived from immersion into and critical appreciation of the creative arts and humanities.

Citation: Beth Carruthers “A Subtle Activism of the Heart” Cross-Pollination: Seeding New Ground for Environmental Thought and Activism across the Arts and Humanities. 25 March 2011
Bio: Carruthers is an independent curator
Abstract: Carruthers proposes that there are two paths we might take in responding to the current eco-crisis. The first perceives world and complex relationships as objects and systems and relies on developing further technologies to repair and maintain the mechanisms of these. The second she describes as an intertwining of being, a vastly different perception of self and world from which very different responses and technologies may arise. Many are doing exemplary work through education, the sciences and the arts in response to global climate change and other aspects of the eco-crisis. Carruthers both considers the role of the arts and the artists in making this ontological shift, and how they both have the capacity to subvert aesthetical perception and engagement in a non-reductive manner.

Citation: Jonathan Clapperton “The Return of the ‘Children of Nature’: Spectacle and Environment during Banff’s Indian Days” Cross-Pollination: Seeding New Ground for Environmental Thought and Activism across the Arts and Humanities. 25 March 2011.
Bio: Clapperton is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History, University of Saskatchewan.
Abstract: Though the indigenous population was largely excluded from Banff National Park after its creation, they would return en masse once a year for the Banff Indian Days. This paper explores how both Natives and non-Natives attempted to “restore” Aboriginal peoples to the park. It also sheds light on the various tensions that resulted from the agendas of participants, organizers and spectators, tensions which would ultimately result in conflict and the Indian Days’ demise.

Citation: Harry Vandervlist “Re-Envisioning Epic in Jon Whyte’s Rocky Mountain Poem The Fells of brightness” Cross-Pollination: Seeding New Ground for Environmental Thought and Activism across the Arts and Humanities. 25 March 2011.
Bio: Vandervlist is an Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Calgary
Abstract: How far does the term epic genuinely suit Whyte’s poem? Vadervlist puts Whyte’s epic into context of some works he feels it shares affinities with and explore how he came to an understanding of the epic genre, and suggest what he was able to do as an epic. As an advocate for local environments, a student and teacher of local history, a critic of the history of representation of the Canadian Rockies–and above all, as an epic poet for whom the Rockies served as motif and muse — Whyte adopted several kinds of responsibility for the places he recognized as a key source of his imaginative identity.

Citation: Christine Stewart “Practices of Reading: Propositions from Under Mill Creek Bridge” Cross-Pollination: Seeding New Ground for Environmental Thought and Activism across the Arts and Humanities. 25 March 2011
Bio: Stewart is an Assistant Professor, Department of English and Film Studies, University of Alberta
Abstract: This research project is a close collaborative, poetic and archival reading of the site where Edmonton’s Mill Creek Bridge, the Mill Creek and the Mill Creek Ravine meet (at 82nd Ave. between 95A St. and 93 St.). A research team comprised of a community of scholars and artists will conduct this creative and scholarly examination in Cree, French, and English. Together, from under the Mill Creek Bridge, we will document and interpret the complex history and present conditions of this area.

Citation: Dianne Chisholm “The Art and Politics of Becoming Caribou” Cross-Pollination: Seeding New Ground for Environmental Thought and Activism across the Arts and Humanities. 25 March 2011.
Bio: Chrisholm is a Professor, Department of English and Film Studies, University of Alberta
Abstract: In 2003 Leanne Allison and Karsten Heuer spent five months and three seasons filming, writing, and tracking on foot a porcupine caribou migration across the high arctic of Yukon and Alaska. Allison and Heuer strive to discover what being caribou intimately entails. Chisholm’s aim is to show how Allison and Heuer compose various refrains of becoming caribou whose impact on the senses is directly political. Being caribou, Chisholm argues, involves a de-framing of the standard view of wilderness landscapes as prospects of sustainable development where industry and wildlife can be made to fit with least risk to ecological integrity. In place of sustainable development Being Caribou sees a non-human becoming of man and a non-human becoming of nature whose critical vitality defies the anthropogenic logic of risk and resource management.

Citation: Daniel Sims, “Ware’s Waldo: Hydroelectric Development and the Creation of the Other in British Columbia,”Cross-Pollination: Seeding New Ground for Environmental Thought and Activism across the Arts and Humanities. 25 March 2011
Bio: Sims is a Graduate Student, University of Alberta
Abstract: In the 1960s, the province of British Columbia under its “two river policy” built hydroelectric dams on the Peace and Columbia rivers. In the 1970s, CBC produced two documentaries on the effects of these developments. “Ware’s Waldo” examines how these documentaries not only constructed a narrative of tragedy regarding both developments, but also portrayed the local inhabitants as the “other:” the “Indian” other on the Peace and the “volk” on the Columbia.

Citation: Pamela Banting “From Beowulf through Virginia Woolf to the Coastal Wolves of BC: Interdisciplinarity, Animal Studies, and the Arts” Cross-Pollination: Seeding New Ground for Environmental Thought and Activism across the Arts and Humanities. 25 March 2011
Bio: Banting is an Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Calgary
Abstract: Animals may be good to think with, as Paul Shepard said, but for the most part universities are dominated by humanist scholars who can be resistant to discourses about any species other than their own: theorizing `the animal´ from within an English department can meet with obstacles. Working on animals can be a formidable task, especially if one wishes to slip out of the leg-hold trap of representationalism and disciplinary limits to speculate about `real´ wolves and bears on the basis of `mere´ textual acquaintance. I will speak about theoretical and political challenges that emerge as one attempts to think with wild animals. What kinds of knowledge about wild animals do the accounts of naturalists, biologists, and park wardens generate, and what insights can a researcher working in an arts or humanities discipline make of such accounts?

Citation: Deanna Reder “Ceremony, Community and the Intertribal Urban Imaginary” Cross-Pollination: Seeding New Ground for Environmental Thought and Activism across the Arts and Humanities. 25 March 2011
Bio: Reder is an Assistant Professor, Department of English, Simon Fraser University
Abstract: Blackfoot and Cree stories of Little People affirm the spiritual as integrated with the spatial with specific sites as portals to spiritual realms. I examine this idea in the context of contemporary Indigenous artists, often living outside their territories, who use urban art practices to affirm the spiritual in spaces, like cities, not typically considered to be home and Native land.

Citation: Warren Cariou “Wastewest: a State of Mind” Cross-Pollination: Seeding New Ground for Environmental Thought and Activism across the Arts and Humanities. 25 March 2011
Bio: Dr. Cariou is an Associate Professor, Department of English, Film and Theatre, University of Manitoba
Abstract: Humans are destroying themselves with waste. Much as we may try to make it disappear, waste always finds its way back into our ecosystems, our neighbourhoods, our bodies. Our relationship to waste will determine the course of our future on this planet. In this paper, Cariou explores the concept of waste first from a global perspective, and then from a Cree-specific perspective.

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