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The Anthropocene Reading

  • Arts + Literature Laboratory 2021 Winnebago Street Madison, WI, 53704 United States (map)

Three writers discuss and share work about the coming climate-change cataclysm. Info/tix

Though many circles of geological science have yet to officially adopt it, the term "anthropocene"—popularized in the year 2000 by atmospheric chemist Paul J. Crutzen, though in use as early as the 1930s—indeed describes our current epoch: severe and perhaps irreversible climate change caused principally by man-made interventions. Like most issues of profound import the anthropocene has provoked as much of a humanities-driven response as it has a scientific one. The creatives of our time are musing on the potential cultural implications of such an era, asking what and who will survive, and perhaps even doing some collective mourning. The anthropocene, then, can be understood not just as a geological era, but also a sociocultural one.

What is the responsibility of art and scholarship in the age of the anthropocene? Not a complete answer, but certainly part of one: to bear witness, and tell the stories with urgency, particularly in light of the grave and damning report recently released by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Arts + Literature Lab has invited three writers to share their work, examine the confluences therein, and discuss their own artistic responses to the epoch: Wisconsin essayist and graduate of the UW-Madison MFA program Meghan O’Gieblyn, whose work has explored transhumanism and artificial intelligence; Jennifer Boyden, Pacific Northwest-based poet and novelist whose most recent book, The Chief Of Rally Tree, explores the reckoning of our cultural drifting from eco-consciousness; and Dr. Heather Swan, UW lecturer and author of Where The Honeybees Thrive, which investigates the critical role these insects play, their precarious future, and the work that their advocates are doing to protect their future (which is, of course, also our future). —Katie Hutchinson

Earlier Event: June 22
Madison's Lilith Fair
Later Event: June 23
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (free)