September 26-27 Harrison Small Auditorium

Keynote: “The Silent Music of Extinction,” Ursula K. Heise, English Department and Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, UCLA (Sept 26 at 4:30pm). 

Many scientists conclude the current precipitous decline in global biodiversity and the thousand-fold increase in the rate of species extinction needs to be understood as marking the planet’s sixth era of mass extinction, but the first such event in which humans have played the primary role. This urgent, global and contemporary crisis is often described not only as the destruction of animals and plants but also as the destruction of knowledge, as “burning the library of life.”

This two-day symposium on Species Extinction and the Humanities will feature interdisciplinary humanities scholarship and public-facing research addressing this emerging issue from the perspectives of environmental humanities, literary and cultural studies, the history of science, native studies, conservation, sound ecology, archival studies, and the visual arts and media. Its theme is the challenge manmade extinction poses to knowledge: what we do and don’t know about the biodiversity crisis, the forms, genres and media that produce knowledge and their potential limits to document the biological violence wrought by imperialisms, globalization and development, as well as questions of the preservation of knowledge about the forms of life we are losing – the technological and material formats that preserve and record biodiversity, and their fragility.

The symposium is sponsored by the Institute of Humanities and Global Cultures, the Page-Barbour AwardsEnvironmental Humanities at UVA, the Department of English and the University Libraries. It is part of UVA’s Environmental Humanities Week (Sept 19-27): Convergences: Sciences, Arts, and Humanities in Conversation. This event is Free and open to the public.