Jane Bennett, “Out for a Walk in the Middle Voice”
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Live captioning will be provided during this event.
It begins with two strolls: one by the 19th-century naturalist Henry Thoreau, who finds himself inscribed by vegetal forms and powers; and one by Paul Klee’s graphic line as it enlists the energies of a human hand to become a doodle. These two walks expose the radical entanglement of human and nonhuman activities, and they call for a lexicon able to acknowledge such a trans-specied kind of agency. How to bespeak such joint efforts in ways that give the nonhuman its due? What grammar, syntax, and verbal forms best acknowledge the contributions of human, animal, vegetal, mineral, and atmospheric vitalities to one another? How to find a language sensitive to the way human writing is itself enabled and infused with nonhuman inscriptions?
Jane Bennett is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University. Her recent essays have appeared in Grain/Vapor/Ray (on Odradek and the end of the world), Evental Aesthetics (special issue on Vital Materialism), MLN (on mimesis), LA+: Interdisciplinary Journal of Landscape Architecture, and Zeitschrift für Medien- und Kulturforschung (on walking). She is the author of Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (2010); The Enchantment of Modern Life (2001); Thoreau’s Nature (1994), and Unthinking Faith and Enlightenment, (1987). Her new book is Influx & Efflux: Writing up with Walt Whitman (2020).
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