This blog contains fragments of ideas, possible examples and field notes from my current book project, “Weathering the City”. I am blogging my research process due to the need for collegial collaboration in response to environmental crises; so please feel free to draw on any ideas and examples documented here, but please reference the source.
I work in the interdisciplinary field of environmental humanities at the intersection of ecological and social justice issues. This project continues my investigation of (or obsession with) the human-weather relation that began with my PhD/first book about the storm in King Lear. In “Weathering the City” I am exploring a tension in Environmental Humanities research when it comes to new knowledge of the weather. Cities are both amazing places and accelerators of climate change; they are incubators for new political worlds and identities, while simultaneously breeding high-consumption lifestyles that are heavily dependent on shadow places. Something about how we live and work in cities needs to change, but what and how?
One of the primary assertions of EH scholarship—a field that aims to critically understand and address the crisis—is that in order to meaningfully respond to the environmental crisis, most western (in particularly wealthy) humans need to change their own relationship with the more-than-human. I agree with this assertion as a point of departure, but in cities large-scale infrastructure mediates and manages the human-weather relation. How to change relations with the weather when our relationships are literally built in steel and concrete? How to do so without resorting to pastoral fantasies and technophobic Edenism? Drawing on methods from literary ecocriticism, gender studies and anthropology, my project is developing a response to these questions.
My name is Jennifer Mae Hamilton and I am currently a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney and the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University, funded by The Seed Box: A Mistra+Formas Environmental Humanities Collaboratory at Linköping University, Sweden. From 2013-2017 I taught ecocriticism at NYU Sydney, but in 2018 I am giving up all these jobs to take up a role as lecturer in English at the University of New England.
My first book This Contentious Storm: An Ecocritical and Performance History of King Lear is out with Bloomsbury Academic. The open access version is here: https://www.bloomsburycollections.com/book/this-contentious-storm-an-ecocritical-and-performance-history-of-king-lear/. I also co-convene COMPOSTING Feminisms and Environmental Humanities with Astrida Neimanis and collaborate with four others as part of the Weathering Collective. You can find more info and other projects and publications on my academia page.