Ecological Media & Ecocriticism Seminar

The term “ecological media” surprisingly has not been formally defined.  Despite this there has been a move within ecocriticism to understand ecological media (or its contraction “ecomedia”) as the study of non-print media as it applies to environmental discourse and action. This was first suggested at ASLE 2009’s pre-conference seminar “Ecological Media” and has since been articulated at the Ecomedia Studies website.  As non-print media, ecomedia encompasses a broad array of media technologies from still photographs to cinema to music and a host of hybrid audio-visual platforms and new media. In essence, the purview of ecological media is vast. In this workshop, instead of attempting to tackle it all, we focus on one expression of ecomedia—cinema.

In focusing on ecocinema, we are aware that the boundaries between cinema and other media are blurry. Yet, we also believe that there already exists a rich ecocritical scholarship devoted to cinema that lends itself to theories and practices of “ecocinema studies.”  In this seminar, we will explore some of this work and consider the potential directions of future work.

We have organized the workshop in three sections.  Part I will discuss readings that describe cinema and ecocriticism’s intersections broadly. Part II will take three critical directions of the concerns, its interest in “materiality,” its intersections with animal studies, and its interest in risk narratives, and consider these aspects more closely. Part III will be a discussion of participants work.

Starting Questions

Part I: Ecocinema Broadly

  • What is ecocinema? What are some of its theories and practices and how do we evaluate both ecocinema and these critical frameworks of engaging it?
  • Does ecocinema need to be further categorized/defined based on genre (for example, eco-fiction versus eco-documentary?) or based on intentionality and motives for screening (for example, Hollywood blockbuster profits versus independent avant-garde screenings?)

Part II: Critical Approaches

  • What are ecocinema’s materialities? How do we study these and why? How do films engage EJ, narratives of risk, and global-local dialogue? How might animal studies and film studies intersect? To what effect?

Part III: Ecocinema’s Directions

  • How do you frame your work within “ecocinema studies”?