Karen Pinkus’s talk is entitled “Terranes of Climate Change: Theory Between Geology and Geography.” Dr. Pinkus is this semester’s speaker for the Center for Critical and Cultural Theory (3CT) Colloquium.
Karen Pinkus is Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at Cornell University. She is also a minor graduate field member in Studio Art, a faculty fellow of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and a member of the Climate Change Focus Group.
Karen has published widely in Italian culture, literary theory, cinema, visual theory, and environmental theory. Aside from Italian she also works with French, Latin, German, Spanish, and she is learning Swedish.
She has several ongoing research projects:
1) on the Italian side, a book, tentatively titled Autonomia/Automata: Machines for Writing, Laboring and Thinking in 1960s Italy explores issues around labor, automation and repetition in Italian art, literature, design and film of the 60s. In part, this work is in dialogue with contemporary Italian thought, especially as regards the question of the Autonomia movement, the refusal to work, and the question of wages.
2) A book titled Fuel 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 follows a series of literary, filmic and critical texts through the form of a dictionary (from “air” to “zyklon D”). Fuel engages with literature (Emile Zola, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Jules Verne, Apollonius of Rhodes, and Upton Sinclair, to name a few authors) and literary theory as they are central to analogy and in turn, to fuel itself.
3) 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 work 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). She hopes to complete the first iteration of the project in Spring, 2014 when she will be a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Energy and Environmeal Research in the Human Sciences at Rice (http://www.culturesofenergy.com)
Karen is on the editorial boards of diacritics and World Picture Journal. For diacritics, she is editing a special issue on climate change criticism, thirty years on from the influential issue on nuclear criticism (forthcoming in 2014).