A conference at the University this week will examine the discrepancy between scientific knowledge of environmental change and media debates and popular opinion on the topic.
The conference, entitled, Environmental Change - Cultural Change (1-4 September) brings together international experts who will be asking how perceptions of the environment and our relationship with it are packaged, where our values and expectations come from, and what part literature and the arts can play in environmental education.
Professor Axel Goodbody from the Department of European Studies & Modern Languages is organising the conference together with Dr Greg Garrard of the Department of English at Bath Spa University.
Professor Goodbody said: “In the last few years, and particularly in the wake of the Copenhagen Climate Conference and the 'Climategate' affair of 2009, environmental change, our part in bringing it about, and what we should do to prevent it have become hotly debated topics. Few would deny that the climate is changing, for instance, but there is a great deal of disagreement over the extent of the changes and their implications for action. We need to really understand the assumptions underlying the different arguments.”
This will be the largest ecocritical conference held outside of the US, bringing together 128 papers and over 150 delegates from the UK, Europe, North America, Australia and the Far East. It is a joint conference of ASLE-UK and EASLCE, which are the British and European affiliate associations of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE).
Ecocriticism is the study of how our relationship with the natural environment is reflected in literature, film and the arts, and how it is shaped by them. It emerged in the US 20 years ago, as a thematically focused approach to literature and culture comparable to feminism and postcolonialism (which examine the cultural dimension of gender and ethnic relations).
Keynote speakers are the environmental historian Dr Georgina Endfield (University of Nottingham), the educationalist Professor Sidney Dobrin (University of Florida), the philosopher and semiotician Dr Timo Maran (University of Tartu, Estonia), and the Shakespeare expert Professor Robert Watson (University of California Los Angeles).