Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Reflecting on the ecopoetics conference. Lots to sift through and think about. Thought I would share my abstract here. I'm already thinking of ways to amend and refine the ways I would describe a feral poetics, so consider this a work in progress.
Troubling the Field: Feral Poetics, Feminism, and the Politics of the Anti-Pastoral
Representations of nature and creaturely life, both in poetry and in the language of
environmentalism, remain haunted by the pastoral tradition. As a feminist, I am often concerned by the tacit acceptance of a pastoral frame in writing about nature. In my work as a writer and reader, I have experimented with a feral poetics as way to trouble pastoralism’s duplicitous and highly gendered fantasies of nature as "wild," “pure,” “unpopulated,” and outside of historical and political time. A feral poetics destabilizes these fantasies, and feral texts articulate and recover the subjects otherwise contained or made invisible by pastoralism’s narratives of nature, nation, state, and species.
In this presentation––part of a continuing project that meditates upon the politics of interspecies affiliations, affinities, and alliances––I outline the contours of a feral poetics, situating it as both an aesthetic and scholarly project of refusing/resisting pastoralism, recalling that pastorlism has often served as the warrant for settler colonialism, racism, and imperialism. In light of a feral poetics, writers, thinkers, and creatures as diverse as Bhanu Kapil, Claudia Rankine, Bernadette Mayer, Donna Haraway, Elizabeth Grosz, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Audre Lorde, Lorine Niedecker, Emily Dickinson, the feral ponies of Assateague Island and New Zealand’s celebrity ovine “Shrek” the sheep can be seen as co-conspirators in a common endeavor.