ENVIRONMENTAL ARTS AND HUMANITIES
REGIONAL GRADUATE CONFERENCE 2022
Oregon State University
Wednesday, June 1, 2022
10AM to 5PM
IN-PERSON (Memorial Union Room 208) & ZOOM
Lunchtime (12pm) meet-and-greet with graduate students in any discipline related to environmental arts and humanities
Evening (6pm) Book Launch Event for Kathleen Dean Moore, Take Heart: Encouragement for Earth’s Weary Lovers
OSU Environmental Arts and Humanities Initiative
Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word
OSU Center for the Humanities
OSU College of Liberal Arts
Organized by Jacob Darwin Hamblin
Director, Environmental Arts and Humanities
Oregon State University
Introduction and Welcome (10am): Jacob Hamblin
Session 1 (1015am – 1155am)
Session Chair: TBD
Miriam F. Lipton (OSU), “From Therapy to Genetics, the Changing Values of Bacteriophages in the United States from the 1930s-1960s”
Madeline Hurwitz (OSU), ““A Whole New World:” Digital Spaces as Extensions of the Natural World in The Overstory”
Jason Sepac (OSU), “Memory/Movie: Splicing Memory and Environment in Home Movies”
Meet-and-greet with graduate students in any discipline related to environmental arts and humanities. Join us for a catered lunch, chat with one another, and network!
Session 2 (115pm-255pm)
Session Chair: TBD
Olivia Goodfriend (OSU), “Queering Science Writing: Exploring Alternative Perspectives in Science and Nature”
John Sansone (UO), “A Little Privacy, Please: A Defense of Peopled and Private Nature for the Anthropocene”
Marilyn Jordan (OSU), “Seasons, sprouts, and springs: The natural cycles of songs”
Madeline Silberger-Franek (PNCA/Willamette University), “Public Spaces for Mental Health: Tools for Acknowledging Mental Health through Design”
Session 4 (315pm-455pm)
Session Chair: TBD
Bjørn Kristensen (UO), “Domestication in the Anthropocene: a Call toward Directedness?”
Anthony Vitale (OSU), “Resigning to be Heard: Hanford Downwinders Demand Better Science”
Adam Quinn (UO), “Dragging the Computer to the Recycling Bin: Environmental Justice and Electronic Waste”
Jay A. Baker (OSU), “Residency Vessels: Creative Practice, Place, and Ways to Build Futures”
Informal break off-campus (5PM)
TATER TOTS AGAINST FASCISM
“There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love tater tots, and fascists.” -Aristotle
BOOK LAUNCH (6PM, WEBINAR ONLY) featuring Kathleen Dean Moore!
Baker, Jay A.
Residency Vessels: Creative Practice, Place, and Ways to Build Futures
Creative residency programs operate all over the world hosting all manner of creative folks and most share the main core principle of offering time and space. The most typical of them offer room and board, a workspace if needed, and minimal requirements on how to spend your time while in residence. Most are in rural settings but they operate in nearly every environment. Most notable residencies in the US are the likes of Yaddo, MacDowell, or Provincetown’s Fine Arts Work center. The amount of residencies is on the rise with staggering variety and increasing importance to creative careers. We’re also living in the so-called Anthropocene, where human influence is knowingly pushing our world towards environmental and social collapse – an all-hands-on-deck situation. All disciplines need to work in new and meaningful ways. Massive shifts in values, identity, and power are needed.
My research is based on seeking out ways that creative people of all sorts can take part in this meaningful work. The arts have continually been a mirror and a generative force in US identity and residencies have too. Creative residencies are particularly well suited structures to investigate creative peoples’ engagements with Land and community. They are also filled to the brim with unheard stories, important paradoxes, histories, and unique relationships. There are also long legacies of romantic colonialism, elitism, and escapism at odds with impactful diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and nimble adaptation.The field holds many potential lessons for meaningful creative work and our relationships to the places people are in kinship with.
I’m preparing for a qualitative research study using conversations with a diverse selection of residency alums and current residency leaders to try and further understand the relationships that make up creative residency programs in the US. This serves the aim to uncover new ways to help build more just and equitable futures with place-based creative work.
Queering Science Writing: Exploring Alternative Perspectives in Science and Nature
My research considers science writing as a medium for generating work at the intersections of scientific research, queer identity, and non-human nature. Coming from a background in queer ecology, I explore how science writing can be used to inform audiences of scientific topics, while also bringing to light the diverse ways queerness exists within research institutions and in natural systems. In addition to increasing the representation of queer identites in STEM fields, my project challenges heteronormative perspectives through recognizing how queerness appears in scientific institutions and in the world around us, often in unexpected ways.
“A Whole New World:” Digital Spaces as Extensions of the Natural World in The Overstory
Richard Powers’ The Overstory highlights the demands which our environments that we inhabit pose to us and the surprising likeness that technology and trees share. The dichotomous relationship between technology and natural ecology is long established, reflected in most literary works concerning either realms of human inhabitance. Positioning technology, human consciousness, and the natural world as extensions of each other is especially striking, given how few literary critiques broach the notion of looking at technology as natural. This project argues that reframing technology as an extension of both human nature and the natural world may be a new approach to understanding environmental activism. Informed by Lawrence Buell’s articulation of ecocritical theory and Marshall McLuhan’s analysis of technology and new media, Powers’s text suggests a pathway forward through activist ideology centralized in an elongating of human consciousness through a symbiotic connection between an inhabitant of a space and the space itself.
Seasons, sprouts, and springs: The natural cycles of songs
Like a drop of water that springs from the ground, flows to the sea, and mists itself up to the sky… like a seedling that sprouts in the spring, blooms into a joyful color, and sweetens a sweetheart’s smile through the fall… songs have a cyclical lifespan, a circular path that starts from the songwriter’s place and sweetens the listener’s community after the song is heard. How can musical storytelling impact people’s behavior in these critical times? How do Americana songs work?
Lipton, Miriam F.
From Therapy to Genetics, the Changing Values of Bacteriophages in the United States from the 1930s-1960s
By the 1960s, U.S. scientists conducted research on bacteriophages (a kind of bacteria eating virus) solely for its applications to genetics. Fundamentally it was an ideal organism in that it was easy to work with, abundant, and responded well to genetic manipulations. The genetic application of bacteriophages was internationally recognized in 1969 when three Americans were awarded the Nobel Prize for their work on the genetics of viruses. And in fact, historians today readily acknowledge the handiness of bacteriophages as a tool for genetic research, and have now begun to explore why bacteriophages emerged as the ideal organism versus other organisms. But a key question has not been asked, namely how did researchers decide that bacteriophages would be good for genetics research rather than good for something else. Afterall, before the American researchers used bacteriophages for genetics there were decades that researchers around the globe used bacteriophages as a therapeutic against bacterial diseases. And in fact, as my research shows, Americans during this same time also saw the utility in the therapeutic approach to bacteriophages. The question then is, how did the transition take place going from therapeutics to genetics? This paper seeks to answer this question.
Dragging the Computer to the Recycling Bin: Environmental Justice and Electronic Waste
This presentation examines how environmental justice groups have sought to address issues of electronic waste in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century. As electronic devices have rapidly become more powerful, more efficient, smaller, and/or more versatile, the electronics of yesterday have increasingly piled up as waste. This has historically posed significant challenges that have impacted people unequally. Processing electronic waste has historically involved workers dealing with dangerous elements like cadmium and lead. After being pressured to take responsibility for their waste in the US, computer manufacturers like Dell first went to a source of cheap, poorly-regulated labor to do this work: prisoners. Years of protest and federal investigation revealed deliberately repeated violations environmental and workplace safety regulations in prison electronics recycling facilities. Environmental justice groups built on their prison justice activism to address similar conditions in overseas recycling centers, although they have faced significant challenges in seeking consistent, global change. Studying the history of environmental justice groups like the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, the Electronics TakeBack Campaign, the Computer TakeBack Campaign, and the International Campaign for Responsible Technology shows that electronics recycling, rather than epitomizing the environmental ethos of a presumably green high-tech industry, underscores some of the industry’s greatest inequities and environmental hazards.
A Little Privacy, Please: A Defense of Peopled and Private Nature for the Anthropocene
Everything is political now that everything is at stake. This means that no political project with authentic aims of freedom and justice for an inclusive sense of polity, contra the multiplying tribalisms and anthropocentrisms on offer, can afford to overlook the state of nature in its absolute. Everything in nature is endangered by the future that humanity is creating for it. Due to the ubiquitous effects of human industry, nature is the absolute public space and technology holds the ultimate responsibility: nothing less than saving the entire world, and everything in it! It is the weight of this obligation on the interaction between technology and nature that will be considered as this presentation asks its impertinent question: is there any hope in giving nature some privacy? Drawing from the work of Claire Colebrook, Hannah Arendt, and Henry David Thoreau, I will argue how nature’s privacy involves people deeply, though what will follow is not a deep ecology. It is more solitary (though not privative) than ecological, which may be another way of saying it is more literary than scientific, more interested in the shared silence of creative experience than the pronouncements of binding laws, to slightly alter Michel Serres’ distinction. In recognition of the unrelenting pressure now to justify what literature can “do” under the enveloping crises of the Anthropocene, I will argue that perhaps what literature is best for is a private matter, of finite (but far from negligible) public concern.
Memory/Movie: Splicing Memory and Environment in Home Movies
Our earliest memories are grounded in sensations or in flashes of perception that are both delicate, and, often, more malleable than we realize. When we come across a photo or video of a memory, it is tempting to treat it as a piece of evidence that our memory is, in fact, real. However, filmic representations can often alter or even stand in for memories. Memory/Movie is a short film essay exploring the boundaries of a first memory and its origins. Was the memory formed from sensations in the environment? From early viewings of home movies? Or was it all an episode of a TV show? Can the early memory of building a sandcastle feel like the memory of building a snowman? Using interviews and Super 8 home movies from the late 80s, the film attempts to capture the act of finding, and, subsequently, doubting one’s early memories. This talk will include clips from the film, followed by discussion of the role environment plays in memory and how the author has translated that in film.
Public Spaces for Mental Health: Tools for acknowledging mental health through design
What would it look like for design professionals working in the public built environment to consider mental health on a deeper, more personal level? Public Spaces for Mental Health examines the intersection between the public built environment, participatory design and the diverse spatial experiences of people with mental health challenges. Urban environments are particularly detrimental to mental health, as we see substantially increased rates of mental illness in those residing in cities. If not addressed, disparities in urban mental health will only grow as massive populations continue to migrate to cities. With no strategies, guidelines or structures in place to address mental health in the public built environment, people with mental health challenges remain consistently underserved. This project is exploring how to make the experience of mental health challenges visible in the design process of public space. It addresses this through the creation of a set of tools that advocate for and aid in a process of collaboration between design professionals (architects, landscape architects and planners) and people experiencing mental health challenges.
Resigning to be Heard: Hanford Downwinders Demand Better Science
When Rudi Nussbaum joined Hanford Health Information Network in the early 1990s, he knew that trust and credibility were of the utmost importance. Declassified documents from Hanford Nuclear Reservation clearly showed accidental and intentional radiation releases, potentially exposing thousands downwind. Mandated by Congress, The Network was to educate the public about radiation and health science, providing a balanced perspective and promoting public involvement. But why would Nussbaum, a nuclear physicist and Holocaust survivor, join a mass resignation from HHIN only a few years later? I argue that beyond standing with his Downwinder allies, Nussbaum was sending a message to the world that official narratives about the dangers of radiation exposure were not credible and future research would require an entirely different approach.