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Eco-Humanities Online Lecture Series

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Implicated Language, Implicated Ecologies: Paul Celan and the Eco-Poetics of Memory

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When Paul Celan declares in his most famous text on his poetics, “the poem remains open to time, time can enter, time participates,” he also offers an early articulation of an Anthropocene poetics. Beginning with his 1959 Sprachgitter (Language Mesh) collection, Celan’s poetry increasingly demonstrates an openness to deep time and a receptivity to the ways in which the Shoah is registered not only in various landscapes but also in geological processes. My talk will attend to the ways in which this poetry collection accounts for and performs the making-present of the past that is constitutive of memory, namely with an understanding of memory and commemoration as an ecological and multispecies practice. Additionally, I will consider how Celan’s ways of commemorating the Jewish and anti-Jewish ecologies of Auschwitz—environmentally, ecologically, geologically, biogeochemically, planetarily, and linguistically—bear methodological and poetic similarities to recent studies by contemporary Black poets and theorists, including Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Tiffany Lethabo King, and Christina Sharpe, of how the longue durée of the Middle Passage is mediated through oceanic archives and the element of water.

Jason Groves is Associate Professor of German Studies at the University of Washington. His research areas include ecocriticism, interdisciplinary nineteenth-century studies, and the environmental humanities. His monograph, The Geological Unconscious: German Literature and the Mineral Imaginary, appeared with Fordham University Press in July 2020. From 2016-2019 he co-organized the Cross-disciplinary Research Cluster on the Anthropocene, and he currently co-organizes the Colloquium on Transcultural Approaches to Europe, both at the Simpson Center for the Humanities.

https://german.washington.edu/people/jason-groves

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