Cultures of Energy welcomes Karen Pinkus, Thursday, January 17th in the Kyle Morrow room of Fondren Library
“Fuel = Hope?”
This lecture will open up a discussion of what is meant by potentiality as we explore the idea of hope in fuels (as distinct from systems of energy or power). Pinkus is trying to reconcile the impractical, speculative questions raised by the humanities with a desire for hope. Hope is not located in any particular technology or policy, or in any social formation such as the multitude or social movement like Occupy. Instead hope may exist in fuels – distinguished from systems of energy or power – as pure potentiality which the lecture will explore through literary narrative and images.
Karen Pinkus is Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature in the Department of Romance Studies at Cornell University. She is also a minor graduate field member in Studio Art and a faculty fellow of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. She has published widely in literary theory, cinema, visual theory, environmental theory and cultural studies. Aside from Italian she also works with French, Latin, German, Spanish, and she is learning Swedish.
She has several ongoing research projects: A book, tentatively titled Fuel. Hope?, thinks about issues crucial to climate change by arguing for a separation of fuel (perhaps understood as potentiality, or dynamis, to use the Aristotelian term) from energy as a system of power (actuality, use). Fuel. Hope? follows a series of literary, filmic and critical texts through the form of a dictionary (from “air” to “zyklon D”).
Pinkus is also beginning work on a digital project in conjunction with the Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke and the Humanities Research Center of Rice University. This project will address climate change at the intersection of geography and geology, focusing on the differential relations between the subsurface (the place of fossil fuels and perhaps, in the future, of storage for captured carbon); the surface (the place of human dwelling, of leases and land use); and the atmosphere (the place of greenhouse gas emissions).