The Anthropocene, Cabinet of Curiosities Slam, Nov. 8-10, 2014, Call for Submissions

FYI–great looking conference coming up! It seems that NIck and I return to this cabinet of curiosities quite often…

The Anthropocene, Cabinet of Curiosities Slam

Nov. 8-10, 2014 University of Wisconsin, Madison

Call for Submissions

We are in the midst of a great reawakening to questions of time—across the
spans of geological, ecological, evolutionary, and human history.  It is a
reawakening precipitated, not by a nostalgia for the past, but by a sense
of urgency about the future.  The Anthropocene, coined in 2000 by
ecologist Eugene Stoermer and popularized by Nobel Prize-winning
atmospheric chemist, Paul Crutzen, is one of the most resonant examples of
how the urgency of the future has prompted scientists, artists, humanities
scholars, and social scientists to engage creatively with the emerging
legacy of our geomorphic and biomorphic powers. The advent of this new
scientific object—the Anthropocene—is altering how we conceptualize,
imagine, and inhabit time.  The Anthropocene encourages us to reenvisage
(in Nigel Clark’s phrase) future and past relations between “earthly
volatility and bodily vulnerability.”  What images and stories can we
create that speak with conceptual richness and emotional energy to our
rapidly changing visions of future possibilities?  For in a world deluged
with data, arresting stories and images matter immeasurably, and play a
critical role in the making of environmental publics and in shaping
environmental policy.

The Anthropocene is just one among many moments in time when new
scientific objects have altered humanity’s relationship to the past,
present, and future.  The coming-into-being of scientific objects such as
fossils, radioactivity, genetic mutations, toxic pesticides, and ice
cores, to name a few, have precipitated different narratives and
imaginings of the human past and the human future.  What might a cabinet
of curiosities for the age of the Anthropocene look like?  What objects
might jolt us into reimagining environmental time across diverse scales,
from the recent past to deep history?  How might certain kinds of objects
make visible the differential impacts—past, present, and future—that have
come to shape the relationships among human and non-human beings, living
in an era of extreme hydrocarbon extraction, extreme weather events, and
extreme economic disparity?

The Nelson Institute’s Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE)
and the Center for German and European Studies (CGES) at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison are pleased to be partnering with the Rachel Carson
Center for Environment and Society (RCC) in Munich and the KTH
Environmental Humanities Laboratory (EHL) in Stockholm to host an
international workshop that invites artists and writers, scientists and
humanists, scholars and activists, to participate in “The Anthropocene,
Cabinet of Curiosities Slam.”  The workshop will take place in Madison,
Wisconsin from Nov. 8-10, 2014.  In the spirit of poetry/spoken word
slams, contributors will be asked to pitch in a public fishbowl setting an
object for the Anthropocene that asks us to rethink humanity’s
relationship to time, place, and the agency of things that shape planetary
change.  How is the appearance and impact of homo sapiens as a geomorphic
force registered in the sediments of history, the objects around us, and
the things yet to be?  What emotionally layered Anthropocene objects can
surprise, disturb, startle, or delight us into new ways of thinking and
feeling?  What objects speak to resilience or adaptation, to vanishing
biota or emerging morphologies?  Based on the audience response at the
slam, contributors will be invited to participate in the design of an
Anthropocene cabinet of curiosities as part of a larger exhibit on the
Anthropocene being planned by the Deutsches Museum in Munich.
Presentations will also form the basis of a collected series of short
essays to be published as part of the CHE, RCC, EHL collaborative project
on Environmental Futures.

To apply, please submit a 200-word abstract of your proposed object and
its importance in opening up questions of time, agency, and/or
intergenerational equity in the Anthropocene, along with a visual
rendering of the object.  Please also include a CV or artist profile.
Materials should be submitted to Garrett Dash Nelson,
by Friday, April 11th.  A limited amount of funding is available to cover
the travel costs of participants.

For more information, please visit

8 thoughts on “The Anthropocene, Cabinet of Curiosities Slam, Nov. 8-10, 2014, Call for Submissions

  1. I really want to throw an abstract out for this one. Maybe we should think up something crazy together?!


  2. I don’t know the organizers on this one. Just came across my Hopkins listserv and couldn’t resist sharing.


  3. Seriously! “What might a cabinet of curiosities for the age of the Anthropocene look like?”
    This is like somebody was ease-dropping on the LSE meetings!


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