Fall 2019

September 4
Public film screening: Environmental Humanities
Grizzly Man (2005)
7:00 p.m., Kassman Auditorium, Lovejoy 100

Pieced together from Timothy Treadwell’s actual video footage, Werner Herzog’s remarkable documentary examines the calling that drove Treadwell to live among a tribe of wild grizzly bears on an Alaskan reserve. A devoted conservationist with a passion for adventure, Timothy believed he had bridged the gap between human and beast. When one of the bears he loved and protected tragically turns on him, the footage he shot serves as a window into our understanding of nature and its grim realities.

Cookies and Coffee will be provided.

September 9
Energy/Exhaustion Series
Climate Engineering: How a Curious Scientific Idea Became Serious Politics
Julia Schubert, University of Bonn
7:00-8:30 p.m., Lovejoy 100

The politics of global climate change mark the many intricate ways, in which modern societies depend on energy. Political attempts at tackling the human causes of climate change concern the generation, distribution, and consumption of energy in society and in doing so, they seem to question the very grounds of how we live. Since the early 2000s, however, a controversial set of techno-scientific schemes has promised to fundamentally alter the politics of climate change: Rather than addressing the societal grounds of climate change, so-called geoengineering approaches entail intervening in its physical and chemical basis. My talk traces the “career” of geoengineering through U.S. politics and demonstrates how shifting alliances between climate science and politics have shaped its particular trajectory.

September 16
Energy/Exhaustion Series
Exhausting Middle English
Megan Cook, Colby College
7:00-8:30 p.m., Lovejoy 100

Language is a constant dialectic between energy and exhaustion: as new words and expressions come into use, others pass away. While dynamic is ongoing, few periods in the English language have witnessed as much, and as rapid, change as the early sixteenth century, which saw the demise of what we now term Middle English, and the rise of our modern form of the language. In this talk, I will ask how readers and writers in early modern England understood language change, and how they came to recognize certain kinds of language as archaic or obsolete. While previous studies have traced the ways that Renaissance authors made literary use of archaic language, in this talk I will also emphasize the views of printers, antiquarians, and other readers with extra-literary investments in old texts, and trace the often political and polemical uses to which outdated language was put.

September 23
Energy/Exhaustion Series
Pipelines, Water, Attachment
Tommy Davis, Ohio State University
7:00-8:30 p.m., Lovejoy 100

How do we become attached to places, things, and other beings? How might aesthetic objects participate in the formation of attachments between humans and nonhumans, culture and energy? In this talk I address the making and unmaking of attachment in the Anthropocene. I take up artworks from two events—the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the Dakota Access Pipeline protests—that seek to cultivate attachments to site-specific environmental crises across geographic and temporal scales. Eco-artist and activist Brandon Ballengée’s oil spill art—the portable museum Crude Life, the haunting prints The Ghosts of the Gulf, and the arresting installation Collapse—memorializes Louisiana’s marine ecologies. I then turn to Standing Rock native Cannupa Hanska Luger’s activist art from the Dakota Access pipeline protests that seeks to, in his words, “re-indigenize” thinking about attachments to land, water, and other life forms. I close with some thoughts on how we might think alongside those artworks that model and enact attachments to more livable and just worlds.

September 30
Energy/Exhaustion Series
What Feeds the Phytoplankton?: Evaluating the Iron Geochemistry of Terrestrial Aerosol Sources to the Subarctic Pacific Ocean
Bess Koffman, Colby College
7:00-8:30 p.m., Lovejoy 100

Bess Koffman studies past changes in Earth’s climate system using a combination of field and laboratory approaches. She is interested primarily in understanding how and why the atmospheric circulation has changed through time and the impacts these changes have had on terrestrial and marine environments. Earth’s atmospheric circulation influences large-scale climate variability in several important ways: it affects the transport and delivery of oceanic heat; it exerts a strong influence on the exchange of carbon dioxide (CO2) between the ocean and atmosphere, and it plays a large role in determining global rainfall distribution. Further, because the atmosphere can respond rapidly to climate perturbations, it is central to understanding the mechanisms driving changes in Earth’s climate on a range of timescales.

October 3
PechaKucha Volume 33
6:20 p.m., Waterville Opera House

PechaKucha Night Waterville is a creative networking event centered on storytelling in 20×20. Every event is well attended and provides its own distinctive journey. PechaKucha Night Waterville is presented by a volunteer Team PK, Waterville Creates, and the Waterville Public Library. The Colby Center for the Arts and Humanities is the PK Waterville 2018 – 2019 season sponsor.


October 7
Energy/Exhaustion Series
“Beats Working”: French Moves
Felicia McCarren, Tulane University
7:00-8:30 p.m., Lovejoy 100

Imagine a country in which dancing counts as work. In which the state supports its performing artists. In France, the Ministry of Defense commissioned a hip hop choreography to celebrate the 70th anniversary of D-day, performed in front of heads of state representing all the Allies, on one of the Normandy beaches. French hip hop pays homage to the US origins of the form in the Afro- and Latin-American neighborhoods of the Bronx. But with local, regional and state support, French hip hop has developed as choreography: recognized around the world not only because of its battle champions but also valorized as work and as art. In French choreographies, on the world’s stages, hip-hoppers dance their modernity, the madness of machines and the freedom of expression that can come from not saying.

October 10
Two Cent Talk Series
Jefferson Navicky and Colin Cheney
5:30 p.m., Chace Community Forum, Downtown Waterville

Jefferson Navicky was born in Chicago and grew up in Southeastern Ohio. He earned a B.A. in English Literature from Denison University, and an M.F.A. in writing and poetics from Naropa University. He is the archivist for the Maine Women Writers Collection and teaches English at Southern Maine Community College. While working for the Authors League Fund from 2005-2007, he was the archivist for the Djuna Barnes literary estate. Jefferson’s work has received several acknowledgments and awards, including a Good Idea Grant from the Maine Arts Commission and a Maine Literary Award in Drama.

Colin Cheney is the author of Here Be Monsters (University of Georgia Press, 2010), a National Poetry Series selection. His essays and articles have appeared in Slate, The Bangkok Post, Coming Close: Forty Essays on Philip Levine, and Ellipsis: Dual Vision by Stephen Posen. His poems have appeared in publications such as AGNI, American Poetry Review, Gettysburg Review, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and Poetry. Cheney has received a Pushcart Prize and a Ruth Lilly Fellowship.


October 14
Energy/Exhaustion Series
The Inexhaustible Dark Energy
Steve Rodney, University of South Carolina
7:00-8:30 p.m., Lovejoy 100

What would happen if there was a source of energy that was never exhausted? Our everyday experience (and possibly your high school physics textbook) would suggest it is impossible to have a limitless supply of anything. However, one of the most uncomfortable conclusions in modern astrophysics is that we live in a universe that seems to be suffused with a limitless and ever-growing Dark Energy. This mysterious cosmic ingredient appears to account for almost 3/4 of the entire mass+energy recipe of the universe. Dark energy is now driving an era of cosmic acceleration: the expansion of the universe that started with the Big Bang is growing faster and faster with each passing millennium. We will explore the evidence that has led astronomers to accept this unsettling model, and we’ll look for clues to the nature of Dark Energy in the earliest epochs of cosmic history, where we will see something like this cosmic acceleration may all have happened before.

October 23
Energy/Exhaustion Film Series
Run Lola Run (1998)
7:15 p.m., Railroad Square Cinema

Run Lola Run is a 1998 German thriller film. The film was written and directed by Tom Tykwer, and starring Franka Potente as Lola and Moritz Bleibtreu as Manni. The story follows a woman who needs to obtain 100,000 Deutsche Mark in twenty minutes to save her boyfriend’s life. Run Lola Run screened at the Venice Film Festival, where it competed for the Golden Lion.[3] Following its release, the film received critical acclaim and several accolades, including the Grand Prix of the Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics, the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, Best Film at the Seattle International Film Festival, and seven awards at the German Film Awards. It was also selected as the German entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 71st Academy Awards, though it was not ultimately nominated.

October 28
Energy/Exhaustion Series
Exhausted Images: The Destruction and Renewal of Visual Culture
Marta Ameri, Colby College
7:00-8:30 p.m., Lovejoy 100

How do we deal with cultural materials that no longer suit our needs/beliefs/political inclinations? Over the summer, a school board in San Francisco voted to cover up, but not paint over, a series of WPA era murals depicting George Washington which include scenes that some viewers now consider offensive. While the removal of school murals and confederate statues is a very current issue, in truth, human beings have been destroying visual culture for as long as we have been creating it. This lecture presents case studies of destruction from different periods in history. Each instance is seen as a reflection of social, religious, or political changes that alter the relationship between the viewer and the image, leading to an intentional or unintentional devaluation of the image. As the original meaning of the image becomes obscured or exhausted and the image itself is destroyed, new images or meanings arise to take its place, perpetuating the cycle.

October 29
Dr. Craig Santos Perez, Poetry Reading
7:00-8:30 p.m., Robinson Room, Miller Library

Dr. Craig Santos Perez, award-winning poet and professor of English at the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa. In his words, “My work is deeply influenced by Chamorro aesthetics in particular, and indigenous aesthetics in general, in which much art, architecture, weaving, tattooing, etc., employ symmetrical and repeating patterns. The same is true for many indigenous oral narratives. At the same time, there are also moments of variation within the repeating patterns.” “Much of my eco-poetry is engaged with “solastalgia,” which refers to a nostalgia for a place that is being environmentally degraded. So it’s not about desiring an ideal nature, but instead a mourning and desire to protect our lands and water from further desecration. In terms of my political poetry, I think it is more so grounded in witness, protest, and resistance. What this work desires is not a past ideal political situation, but instead it longs and advocates for a decolonized, sovereign, and indigenous future.”

Cosponsored with the Oak Institute for Human Rights.

November 4
Energy/Exhaustion Series
Bombay Hustle: Film History as an Ecology of Energy Relations
Debashree Mukherjee, Columbia University
7:00-8:30 p.m., Lovejoy 100

Cinema is a powerful assemblage that activates people and things and sets them into motion. The viewer’s body is impacted by the screen: she may be moved to tears, to laughter or lulled into reverie. At the same time, a vast ecology of off-screen practices also participates in cinema’s dynamic logics. As an employer, cinema has the power to put bodies to work. The cine-ecology is at once energized and consumed by practices required to bring filmed images to a commercial screen. Running a camera motor, transporting imported raw stock, waiting for the next lighting set-up, and writing continuity, all depend on energy-intensive encounters between humans, electricity, celluloid, climate, paper, oil, and buildings. Energy transfers, therefore, undergird the existence of movies in the world and are central to the historical status and significance of cinema. By tracking energy relations across the cine-ecology we not only see connections between the image and the labor that produces it, but we can also reconceive cinema’s relation to modernity with attention to the specificities of other places in other times, other bodies in other assemblages of power and practice.

November 11
Energy/Exhaustion Series
“Something’s in the Air: How do natural and man-made emissions interact to shape air quality?”
Karena McKinney, Colby College
7:00-8:30 p.m., Lovejoy 100

One visible effect of fossil fuel energy consumption is the emission of gases and particles into the atmosphere. These emissions include not only carbon dioxide, but also a wide range of other reactive gases. But anthropogenic processes are not the only sources of atmospheric emissions. Many natural systems, including the oceans, volcanoes, and plants, also emit chemical compounds into the atmosphere. Once there, these compounds undergo a series of chemical reactions driven by sunlight. The addition of man-made emissions, predominatly from fossil fuel combustion, has altered the chemistry and composition of the lower atmosphere and negatively impacted air quality and climate in ways that are not fully understood. Using results from field and lab measurements of atmospheric composition and reactions we seek to elucidate the complex interplay between naturally occurring emissions and anthropogenic pollutants, and the ways in which human activities have drastically altered the air we breathe.

November 18
Energy/Exhaustion Series
The Illusion of Time: Testing the Bidirectional Relationship Between Belief in Free Will and Temporal Horizons
Elizabeth Seto, Colby College
7:00-8:30 p.m., Lovejoy 100

Belief in free will, operationalized as the ability to freely choose one’s own actions and determine one’s own outcomes, is the embodiment of energy and exhaustion. Belief in free will can energize us, instilling the notion that we are active agents in our social world. Disbelief in free will can exhaust us by dampening our experience of action control and highlighting the constraints in our lives. The subjective experience of time, identified as future time perspective by psychologists, is another personification of energy and exhaustion. Time can feel expansive, energizing us to pursue opportunities. Time can feel limited as if we are exhausting one of the most valuable resources in our lives. The current research examines the bidirectional relationship and dynamic interplay between belief in free will and perceptions of time.

November 20
Energy/Exhaustion Film Series
7:15 p.m., Railroad Square Cinema

Eraserhead is a 1977 American experimental body horror film written, produced, and directed by David Lynch. The film’s editing, score, and sound design were also helmed by Lynch, with pieces by a variety of other musicians also featured. Shot in black and white, Eraserhead is Lynch’s first feature-length film, following several short works. Starring Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Jeanne Bates, Judith Anna Roberts, Laurel Near, and Jack Fisk, it tells the story of Henry Spencer (Nance), who is left to care for his grossly deformed child in a desolate industrial landscape.

November 25
Energy/Exhaustion Series
Living with the Damage: Landscapes of Exhaustion in 21st-Century African-American Poetry
Samia Rahimtoola, Bowdoin College
7:00-8:30 p.m., Lovejoy 100

This talk reads Dawn Lundy Martin’s Discipline (2011) and Ed Roberson’s City Eclogue (2006) in order to uncover the social and environmental forms of relation that appear under conditions of racialized gentrification. Both books refuse easy narratives of individual overcoming, bodily cure, and environmental repair, instead proposing a catalogue of those who live on beyond hope of repair or reparation. In response to this literary representation of black exhaustion, the talk teases out the political and ethical implications of maintaining relation with what has been abjected. In other words, what can environmentalism learn from the dynamics of vacancy/vagrancy produced by gentrification?

December 2
Energy/Exhaustion Series
Black Holes and Galaxy Exhaustion
Dale Kocevski, Colby College
7:00-8:30 p.m., Lovejoy 100

Dale Kocevski an assistant professor in the Physics and Astronomy Department at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. He performed his postdoctoral work at the University of California in Davis and Santa Cruz and graduate work at the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. Prior to that Dale received his Bachelor’s degree in physics and astronomy from the University of Michigan.

His research focuses on the study of distant galaxies that host actively accreting supermassive black holes, otherwise known as active galactic nuclei (AGN). There is mounting evidence that the evolution of galaxies is closely linked to the growth of their central black holes, but how this connection is established remains one of the key unanswered questions in astrophysics today. Dale is interested in understanding the mechanisms that fuel the growth of supermassive black holes and what role AGN feedback plays in suppressing the star formation activity of massive galaxies. To investigate these issues, his work uses multi-wavelength observations ranging from the infrared to the to study the star formation activity, morphologies, and environments of galaxies undergoing active black hole growth.


December 4
Energy/Exhaustion Film Series
Manufactured Landscapes(2007)
7:15 p.m., Railroad Square Cinema

This documentary reveals the gritty underside of industrial landscapes. Photographer Edward Burtynsky explores the subtle beauty amid the waste generated by slag heaps, dumps and factories. Memorable scenes include a Chinese iron factory where employees are berated to produce faster, and shots of children playing atop piles of dangerous debris. The contrasts between wealth and poverty are most striking in Shanghai, with new high-rises towering above old slums.