22.11.2023 · 18.30 Uhr

Karen Leeder (University of Oxford): After Nature: Eco Poetics and Activism

Ort: Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung, Pariser Str. 1, Eingang Meierottostr. 8, 10719 Berlin

This talk will look at contemporary poetry and activism and ask what happens to poetry when it tries to document crisis or communicate urgent political concerns. In particular, it asks what form(s) such poetry can take. In this it touches on the notion of an aesthetics of the Anthropocene, drawing both on theoretical approaches but also on contemporary examples. It compares responses by two contemporary German poets to the ecological crisis which engage experimental aesthetics both on and off the page: Ulrike Draesner in her recent book length poem doggerland (2021), but also in many recent poems responding to ecological degradation and Ulrike Almut Sandig, in ich bin ein feld voller Raps, verstecke die Rehe und leuchte wie dreizehn Ölgemälde übereinandergelegt (2016) and recent poems from her Leuchtende Schafe (2022). The paper concludes by exploring how the temporalities, poetics and (intermedial) formal experiments in their work speak to current discussions about tracing a more than individual aesthetics to answer the global crisis.

Karen Leeder holds the Schwarz Taylor Chair of German Language and Literature at the University of Oxford. Her research interests include poetry, GDR literature, contemporary German Culture, Celan, Rilke, Brecht, and Durs Grünbein. She is also a translator of contemporary German literature, including works by Evelyn Schlag, Raoul Schrott, Michael Krüger, Durs Grünbein, Volker Braun, and Ulrike Almut Sandig. Leeder currently resides in Berlin as Einstein BUA/Oxford Visiting Fellow.

Publications (selection):

  • Ed.: Ulrike Draesner. A Companion. Berlin, New York: De Gruyter 2022 (with Lyn Marven)
  • Ed.: Rereading East Germany: The Literature and Film of the GDR. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2016
  • Ed.: New German Critique 42.2 (2015): Figuring Lateness in Modern German Culture
  • Ed.: Nach Duino: Studien zu Rainer Maria Rilkes späten Gedichten. Göttingen: Wallstein 2009 (with Robert Vilain)
  • Breaking Boundaries: A New Generation of Poets in the GDR. Oxford: Oxford University Press 1996