Archive for September 7th, 2011

A refreshing interdisciplinary experience

7 September 2011

By Juliana Adelman

A few weeks ago I was called on to replace a panel speaker at a conference on ecocriticism (Literature and conservation: responsibilities).  Having plenty of conference organising experience I was sympathetic to the organiser’s attempt to patch a hole in the programme and the topics for discussion looked interesting to me.  Nevertheless, I felt a mounting sense of trepidation as the day drew closer.  Did I really have anything to say that someone from English literature might want to listen to?  Did I really GET the questions I had been sent or was I missing the point completely?  I silently prayed that no one would ask a question about literary theory and wondered if I should try to cram in some reading of the novels that other speakers were talking about.

The day of the conference arrived and I spent an enjoyable few hours listening to a great diversity of papers.  (With thanks to the organisers, Alison Lacivita and Megan Kuster).  My contribution to the panel session seemed to go down ok (although no one boos or throws things in academia these days) and no one asked me a question about literary theory.  It was truly refreshing to listen to people outside my own discipline.  I came away with an enormous reading list, a commitment to paying more attention to ecocriticism as part of my interest in environmental history and a renewed distaste for jargon. Read more