Cymene and Dominic debate the Pet Rock as a capitalist or proto-new-materialist venture on this week’s episode of the podcast. Then (16:59) we welcome to the podcast multitalented environmental humanist and soon-to-be decanal superstar Jeffrey Jerome Cohen from Arizona State. With Jeffrey we talk about unsustainably hot desert cities as harbingers of the future and then quickly get to his fascinating book Stone: An Ecology of the Inhuman (U Minnesota Press, 2015) and its exploration of litho-human relationships both medieval and modern. Jeffrey explains how his work seeks to appreciate medieval ways of knowing. He argues that they might help us to reinvigorate our way of understanding the world today—not least by conceiving lithic materials as something more than inert resources—and improve our ethics of relationality with the more-than-human world. We talk about stones as transport devices in human storytelling and as archives of catastrophe, the Noah’s Ark trope, and fire as elemental force, human companion, and challenge to think with. We then turn to Jeffrey’s work on monsters, but mostly as a pretense to get him to tell us his Pixar lawsuit story. Finally we discuss his most recent book, Earth (Bloomsbury, 2017), co-authored with planetary geologist, Lindy Elkins-Tanton, and how we might imagine human life as part of planetary life more widely. Wondering why monsters and aliens are green? Listen on!
- Outreach & Teaching