Timescales

Thinking across Ecological Temporalities

2020

Bethany Wiggin, Carolyn Fornoff, and Patricia Eunji Kim, Editors

Timescales

Humanists, scientists, and artists collaborate to address the disjunctive temporalities of ecological crisis

This book contends that to represent and respond to crises wrought by climate change requires reframing time itself, making more visible the relationship between past, present, and future, and between a human life span and the planet’s. Timescales puts oceanographers, geophysicists, geologists, and anthropologists into conversation with literary scholars, art historians, and archaeologists to forge new intellectual spaces.

In 2016, Antarctica’s Totten Glacier, formed some 34 million years ago, detached from its bedrock, melted from the bottom by warming ocean waters. For the editors of Timescales, this event captures the disjunctive temporalities of our era’s—the Anthropocene’s—ecological crises: the rapid and accelerating degradation of our planet’s life-supporting environment established slowly over millennia. They contend that, to represent and respond to these crises (i.e., climate change, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, species extinction, and biodiversity loss) requires reframing time itself, making more visible the relationship between past, present, and future, and between a human life span and the planet’s.

Timescales’ collection of lively and thought-provoking essays puts oceanographers, geophysicists, geologists, and anthropologists into conversation with literary scholars, art historians, and archaeologists. Together forging new intellectual spaces, they explore the relationship between geological deep time and historical particularity, between ecological crises and cultural expression, between environmental policy and social constructions, between restoration ecology and future imaginaries, and between constructive pessimism and radical (and actionable) hope. Interspersed among these essays are three complementary “etudes,” in which artists describe experimental works that explore the various timescales of ecological crisis.

Contributors: Jason Bell, Harvard Law School; Iemanjá Brown, College of Wooster; Beatriz Cortez, California State U, Northridge; Wai Chee Dimock, Yale U; Jane E. Dmochowski, U of Pennsylvania; David A. D. Evans, Yale U; Kate Farquhar; Marcia Ferguson, U of Pennsylvania; Ömür Harmanşah, U of Illinois at Chicago; Troy Herion; Mimi Lien; Mary Mattingly; Paul Mitchell, U of Pennsylvania; Frank Pavia, California Institute of Technology; Dan Rothenberg; Jennifer E. Telesca, Pratt Institute; Charles M. Tung, Seattle U.

Timescales

Bethany Wiggin is associate professor of German at the University of Pennsylvania and founding director of the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities.

Carolyn Fornoff is assistant professor of Latin American culture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Patricia Eunji Kim is assistant professor/faculty fellow at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University.
Timescales

Contents

Introduction: Environmental Humanities across Times, Disciplines, and Research Practices

Carolyn Fornoff, Patricia Eunji Kim, and Bethany Wiggin

Part I. Variations and Methods

1. Time Bomb: Pessimistic Approaches to Climate Change Studies

Jason Bell and Frank Pavia

2. Earth’s Changing Climate: A Deep-Time Geoscience Perspective

Jane E. Dmochowski and David A.D. Evans

3. Deep Time and Landscape History: How Can Historical Particularity Be Translated?

Ömür Harmanşah

Etude 1. A Period of Animate Existence

4. Staging Climate: A Period of Animate Existence and the Global Imaginary

Marcia Ferguson

5. A Period of Animate Existence

Troy Herion, Mimi Lien, and Dan Rothenberg

6. Interview with Dan Rothenberg, Director of A Period of Animate Existence

Bethany Wiggin

Part II. Variations, Fast and Slow

7. Time Machines and Timelapse Aesthetics in Anthropocenic Modernism

Charles M. Tung

8. Fishing for the Anthropocene: Time in Ocean Governance

Jennifer E. Telesca

Etude 2. WetLand

9. WetLand Manifesto

Mary Mattingly

10. Figuring WetLand

Kate Farquhar

Part III. Repetitions and Variations

11. Vanishing Sounds: Thoreau and the Sixth Extinction

Wai Chee Dimock

12. Hoopwalking: Human Rewilding and Anthropocene Chronotopes

Paul Wolff Mitchell

13. Dirt-Eating in the Disaster

Iemanjá Brown

Etude 3. Futurity Unknown

14. The Memory of Plants: Genetics, Migration, and the Construction of the Future

Beatriz Cortez

Coda

Carolyn Fornoff, Patricia Eunji Kim, and Bethany Wiggin

Notes

Contributors

Index