Arts, Media & Culture Colloquium, on 24 April

Arts, Media & Culture Colloquium: ‘Interspecies Communication and Posthuman Ethics’

Speakers: Leonie Cornips & Louis van den Hengel

When: Wednesday 24 April, 15.30
Where: Spiegelzaal, GG 80-82

This presentation joins together Leonie Cornips’ current research into interspecies communicative practices and Louis van den Hengel’s research interests in critical posthumanism and the environmental humanities. Drawing on her recent ethnographic fieldwork at an intensive dairy farm, Leonie will explore what linguistic research can contribute to the burgeoning field of interspecies studies and vice versa. Specifically, she will discuss how human and nonhuman animals – that is, farmers and cows – communicate together in this context, and how this interspecies communication may make successful farming possible with wellbeing for both species.

Louis, in turn, will examine the usefulness of posthuman critical theory for negotiating and renegotiating, questions of ethics, agency, and accountability in interspecies ethnography. Drawing on the fields of feminist new materialism and new materialist environmentalism, he will argue for establishing egalitarian cross-species forms of communication beyond the assumptions of human exceptionalism and species hierarchy. Together, we aim to develop a non-anthropocentric approach to language that may help contribute towards a new understanding of interspecies ethics in the twenty-first century.

*Leonie Cornips is a senior researcher of Variation Linguistics at the Meertens Institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in Amsterdam and holds the Chair ‘Language Culture in Limburg’ at Maastricht University, FASoS. She has published numerous studies into the construction of regional and social identities through language practices in Limburg. Other research interests are language acquisition of bilingual and bidialectical children, and linguistic variation in “old” and “new” non-standard varieties of Dutch. Her recent publications include contributions to journals such as the Dutch Journal of Applied Linguistics and the Anthropological Journal of European Culture, as well as the book The Sociolinguistics of Place and Belonging: Perspectives from the Margins, co-edited with Vincent de Rooij (John Benjamins, 2018).

*Louis van den Hengel is an assistant professor in the Department of Literature and Art and fellow at the Centre for Gender and Diversity at Maastricht University, FASoS. His research examines the ontology and aesthetics of performance-based art from a feminist new materialist perspective. In addition, he is interested in the convergences of critical posthumanism, auto/biography, and life writing. He has contributed an essay on this topic to a special issue of Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, which received the prize for Best Special Issue awarded by the Council of Editors of Learned Journals of the Modern Language Association. More recent publications include a book chapter on performance art and affect studies in Doing Gender in Media, Art and Culture (Routledge, 2018) and a chapter on “ecosexuality” in the volume Gender: Matter edited by Stacy Alaimo (Macmillan, 2017).

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