Paola Iovene and Paul Copp invited me to give a guest lecture for their amazing course Chinese Landscapes of Repair, Past and Present at the University of Chicago.
In this course, they “explore a range of representations and practices related to “repair” in China,” and “consider literary, philosophical, and artistic works that question the notion that humans are separate from nature or the environment” as well as “the specific means whereby different literary and visual genres call attention to elements—plants, water, air, earth, humans—in need of repair.”
Reading materials included Zhuangzi and Shanhaijing as well as works by Ah Cheng and Wu Mingyi and the class also enjoyed a virtual visit from artist Zheng Bo’s who has worked on plant politics in his Wanwu Council 萬物社.
In my guest lecture, I talked a little about my work on ecocritical temporalities and a lot about monster plants in stories by Chi Hui 迟卉, Dorothy Tse 謝曉虹 and Yan Ge 颜歌.
I analysed how botanical characters are used as role models for a more sustainable and interconnected way life as well as monstrous entities that deconstruct the very notion of repair and suggest that despite its benevolent possibilities it still caries remnants of the narratives of human mastery that led to environmental destruction in the first place.