Metabolism, Writing, and the Anthropocene

When and Where

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm


Adam Dickinson, Associate Professor, Department of English Language & Literature, Brock University


ABSTRACT: Through the proliferation of plastics and chemical pollution more generally, petrochemicals constitute forms of social, material, and biological writing. How might contemporary writers respond to the capacity of petrochemical hyperobjects to influence social formations or alter human metabolism? How do endocrine disrupting chemicals put pressure on literary forms and genres? Arguing for the critical potential of a “metabolic poetics” that mixes science and art (through pataphysics and biosemiotics), this presentation will include readings and a discussion of the poetics and research involved with two related books of poetry: The Polymers, which is an imaginary science project that combines the discourses, theories, and experimental methods of the science of plastic materials with the language and culture of plastic behaviour, and Anatomic, which involves chemical and microbial testing on my body in order to see the chemicals in my blood and urine, as well as the western-diet-influenced microbes in my stomach, as forms of media expressing my own strange intimacy with the energy sources of my historical moment.

BRIEF BIO: Adam Dickinson is a writer, researcher and teacher. His scholarly and creative work focuses on intersections between science, poetry, and the environment. His recent scholarly work has been included in the Oxford Handbook of Ecocriticism and Fueling Culture: 101 Words for Energy and Environment. His most recent book, The Polymers, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry (Canada). He has been featured at international literary festivals such as Poetry International in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and the Oslo International Poetry Festival in Norway. He is an Associate Professor in the English Department at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, where he teaches poetics and creative writing.