Location: Rachel Carson Center, Munich, Germany
Conveners: Prof. Dr. Matthew Schneider-Mayerson (Yale-NUS-College) and Prof. Dr. Alexa Weik von Mossner (University of Klagenfurt)
There is a growing understanding across disciplines that narratives are of central importance to our relationships with other humans and nonhumans, as well as the broader environment. However, there is a need for more interdisciplinary cooperation and transdisciplinary convergence in order to explore further, in both the theoretical and the empirical realms, how environmental narratives across various mediums contribute to our understanding of the world around us and our place in it.
This two-day workshop seeks to establish empirical ecocriticism as a field that investigates the influence of environmental narratives (across a wide variety of media) on their audiences. In our current working definition, empirical ecocriticism is the empirically grounded study of environmental narrative—in literature, film, television, etc.—and its influence on various audiences. Though the precise boundaries of empirical ecocriticism are still under construction, there are a few ways of defining it in relation to different fields of study, such as traditional ecocriticism and environmental communication, at this point in time. For us, empirical ecocriticism 1) is empirically grounded; 2) is open to qualitative and exploratory methodologies; 3) is focused on the effects of narrative strategies and techniques, with the kind of depth and nuance that cultural critics have brought to their research for decades; 4) features writing that is clear and engaging to both environmental humanists and social scientists; and 5) is open to critical engagement with competing definitions of “empirical” data.
One of the central aims that this workshop will develop is to gain a better understanding of the role of environmental narratives in influencing people’s awareness, attitudes, and behavior in a time of rapid social and ecological transformation. Combining approaches from the humanities and the social sciences, empirical ecocriticism explores the ways in which people from various cultural backgrounds engage with environmental narratives and the larger repercussions of such engagement. The workshop will include scholars who are already involved in research in empirical ecocriticism, as well as scholars who are interested in pursuing this kind of research in the near future.
Read the conference report.