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The University of Alabama

UA English Department to Host Symposium

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A symposium on elemental ecocriticism, which is a critical field that examines literary representations of the world and their effects on the world, will be hosted by the department of English at The University of Alabama April 25-27.

The event marks the 30th Alabama Symposium on English and American Literature and is sponsored by UA’s College of Arts and Sciences and the Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies in the department of English.

Dr. Sharon O’Dair, Hudson Strode Professor of English and director of the Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies, said the event will focus on ecocriticism, which is increasing as individuals become more environmentally conscious.

“Motivating these scholars is what motivates the millions of people who, since the 1960s, have grown more and more concerned about the environments in which they live: how best to live in our world,” she said. “In just over 20 years, ‘ecocriticism’ has become an exciting environment of its own, one especially appealing to students and one negotiating its theoretical and institutional growth.”

The symposium will feature a variety of distinguished guests — writers, professors, journalists and others well recognized in their fields — who will speak and lead discussions during the three-day event.  A schedule of speakers follows; a schedule of events is available at

Thursday, April 25
8 p.m.: Keynote Address, Dr. Cary Wolfe, “The Biopolitics of Human and Animal Bodies”
Greensboro Room at the Bama Theater, downtown Tuscaloosa
Wolfe is the Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor of English at Rice University, where he is also founding director of 3CT: The Center for Critical and Cultural Theory. His books include “Animal Rites: American Culture, the Discourse of Species, and Posthumanist Theory” (Chicago, 2003), “What Is Posthumanism?” (Minnesota, 2010), “The Other Emerson” (Minnesota, 2010), and “Before the Law: Humans and Other Animals in a Biopolitical Frame” (Chicago, 2012).

Friday, April 26
9 a.m.–5:15 p.m.: Lectures, Bryant Conference Center, Birmingham Room

9–10:15 a.m.: Dr. Lowell Duckert, “Earth”
Duckert is an assistant professor of English at West Virginia University.

10:30–11:45 a.m.: Dr. Karl Steel, “Creeping Things, Matter’s Own Life”
Steel is an assistant professor of English at Brooklyn College, CUNY.

1–2:15 p.m.: Dr. Valerie Allen, “Airy Something”
Allen is a professor of English literature at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY.

2:30–3:45 p.m.: Dr. Jeffrey Cohen, “The Sea Above”
Cohen is a professor of English and director of the Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute at the George Washington University.

4–5:15 p.m.: Dr. Julian Yates, “Wet”
Yates is an associate professor of English and Material Culture Studies at the University of Delaware.

Saturday 4/27
9:30 a.m.–5 p.m.: Lectures, Bryant Conference Center, Birmingham Room

9:30–10:45 a.m.: Dr. Sharon O’Dair, “Muddy Thinking”
O’Dair is Hudson Strode Professor of English and director of the Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies at The University of Alabama.

11 a.m.–12:15 p.m.: Dr. Steve Mentz, “Phlogiston”
Mentz is a professor of English at St. John’s University.

2:15–3 p.m.: Dr. Anne Harris, “Pyromena, Fire’s Doing”
Harris is an associate professor of art history at DePauw University.

3:45–5 p.m.: Dr. Chris Barrett, “The Quintessence of Wit: Ether and the Material Joke”
Barrett is an assistant professor of English at Louisiana State University.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.