Antagonism, Integration, and Reflection
The Interplay of Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Anthropocene from the Perspective of Environmental Humanities
The interdisciplinary Earth System Sciences have proposed to view humanity as a geo-bio-physical factor at planetary scale. This has led to a radical new perspective on the human-nature relationship and its complex, non-linear feedback loops on different temporal and spatial scales. The past two decades have seen the rapid spread of the concept of an Anthropocene across a wide range of disciplines, from the natural sciences to the social sciences and humanities, as well as in public discourse. Moreover, the debate on the Anthropocene has also led to an expansion of disciplines and reflection on disciplinary changes. Existing scientific paradigms, theories and methodologies are renegotiated and placed in new conceptual configurations. The resulting solution-oriented scientific approaches have in turn attracted concerns and criticism from the social sciences and humanities.
New interdisciplinary journals such as Anthropocene or Anthropocene Review have emerged; numerous interdisciplinary volumes, research groups, courses of study, exhibitions, and many artistic works now bear this name. One could therefore speak of an Anthropocene turn characterized by both a »big interdisciplinarity« and transdisciplinary bridges to the public. However, Anthropocene studies are multifaceted, and in the context of our conference it seems worth examining different modes of interdisciplinarity: those that have been described as the »integrative-synthesis mode,« the »subordination mode« and the »agonistic-antagonistic mode.«
In order to do so, the lecture will first introduce central interdisciplinary readjustments in the Anthropocene discourse; both integrative and antagonistic types of interdisciplinarity play an important role. The second part outlines the interdisciplinary field of Environmental Humanities, which have emerged over a decade ago and in which the Anthropocene is problematized as a heterogeneous concept. The third part will show, by way of example, how the Anthropocene as an irreversible »rupture« in geological history represents a new interdisciplinary challenge for literary studies and contributes to their expansion, including new literary genre classifications such as Anthropocene Fiction or Anthropocene Lyric or, on the level of reception, an awareness of Anthropocene Readings.
Gabriele Dürbeck is Professor of Literature and Cultural Studies at the University of Vechta. Her research focuses on literature of the 18th to the 21st centuries, travel literature, postcolonialism, ecocriticism, and Environmental Humanities. Longer research stays have taken her to universities in Uppsala (Sweden), Athens/GA and Cincinnati/OH (USA), Université de Dschang (Cameroon), Sydney University and Monash University, Melbourne (Australia). From 2015 to 2019, she served as Chair of the Kulturwissenschaftliche Gesellschaft (Cultural Studies Society). From 2017 to 2020, she led the DFG project Narratives of the Anthropocene in Science and Literature. Structures, Themes, Poetics.
Selected publications: »Narrative des Anthropozän – Systematisierung eines interdisziplinären Diskurses« (2018, Kulturwissenschaftliche Zeitschrift 2.1); Stereotype Paradiese. Ozeanismus in der deutschen Südseeliteratur 1815–1914 (2007); Koeditionen: Narratives of Scale in the Anthropocene: Imagining Human Responsibility in an Age of Scalar Complexity (2021); Deutschsprachiges Nature Writing von Goethe bis zur Gegenwart. Kontroversen, Positionen, Perspektiven (2020); The Anthropocenic Turn. The Interplay between Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Responses to a New Age (2020); Ecological Thought in German Literature and Culture (2017); Ecocriticism. Eine Einführung (2015); Postkoloniale Germanistik. Bestandsaufnahme, theoretische Perspektiven, Lektüren (2014).