Harper Distinguished Speaker Series: Climate Crisis and Comedy Crisis with Nicole Seymour

April 20

5:00pm - 7:00pm

Sturm Hall, Room 281, Lindsay Auditorium

Audience: Alumni,  Current Student,  Faculty,  Neighbor or Friend,  Prospective Student,  Staff

Register to attend in-person here.

Register to attend virtually here.

Reception: 5 p.m.

Program: 5:30-7 p.m.

Environmental art and activism in the Global North have long been known for employing modes such as “doom and gloom,” sanctimony, and sentimentality—modes which can overwhelm and alienate audiences. Nicole Seymour tells us a different story. Her lecture will begin by drawing on her book Bad Environmentalism to outline a neglected tradition of alternative art and activism: one that employs comedic modes such as irony, irreverence, and campiness to reflect critically on both our current moment of crisis and on mainstream environmentalism itself—including its whiteness and straightness. However, as she will describe in the second part of her talk, some cultural critics have since declared that comedic modes are in crisis. For instance, the satirical climate-fiction author Karl Taro Greenfeld has worried that the heightened absurdities of life in the 21st-century will quickly eclipse his writing. Meanwhile, a new online generation of white supremacists have been embracing comedic modes historically associated with the progressive Left. Where can comedy go from here? More specifically, what’s the future of bad environmentalism and other alternative approaches to environmental crisis? Seymour will conclude her lecture with a few predictions and possibilities. 

Nicole Seymour works at the intersection of environmental studies and queer studies, with a particular focus on the role of aesthetics and affects. She is the author of Strange Natures: Futurity, Empathy, and the Queer Ecological Imagination(University of Illinois Press, 2013), which won the 2015 Book Award for Ecocriticism from the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, and Bad Environmentalism: Irony and Irreverence in the Ecological Age (University of Minnesota Press, 2018), which was included in the Chicago Review of Books’ list of the “Best Nature Writing of 2018.” Her newest book, Glitter (Bloomsbury’s Object Lessons series, 2022), offers an environmental-cultural history of a substance often dismissed as frivolous. Dr. Seymour recently held fellowships at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich and the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh. She is currently Associate Professor of English and Graduate Advisor for Environmental Studies at California State University, Fullerton.  

The annual Harper Distinguished Speaker Series from the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences brings to Denver a prominent leader from a liberal arts field. We invite innovative leaders in the liberal arts to discuss topics relevant to their work and to our community. We welcome our alumni, the Denver community, and colleagues and students from across campus to hear scholars that matter, and to join us in engaging in and shaping critical conversations that make a difference in the world.