Heated Conversations by Jennifer Wenzel | 31 May | 6pm

Wednesday, 31 May, 2023 - 18:00

You are warmly invited to the next session of WiSER’s online seminar series

Heated Conversations

Jennifer Wenzel will speak on

‘On Progress and the Pedestrian’

Click here for Paper

This paper is excerpted from a draft chapter that builds upon my previous work on petro-magic-realism as a literary mode in order to examine petro-magic as a broader aspect of the lived experience of petromodernity. As an alternative to an aesthetics and kinesthetics of petro-magic as fossil-fueled flying high, I consider “the pedestrian,” by which I mean both a prose style and a mode of mobility that might point toward an alternative embodied politics. Ultimately, what interests me here are some fundamental questions about the social imagination in relation to fossil fuels: how do we imagine movement? how do we imagine change? what contradictions are involved in those imaginings? The inadequacy of meaningful individual action in the face of the overlapping, cascading, and accelerating crises of the present can create a sense of inertia and impasse. What is the role of incremental change in an exponential world? Can we chip away at impasse one step at a time?

Jennifer Wenzel is a Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature and the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University, where she is also an affiliate at the Columbia Climate School. Her previous books include The Disposition of Nature: Environmental Crisis and World Literature (2020), Fueling Culture: 101 Words for Energy and Environment (co-edited with Szeman and Yaeger), and Bulletproof: Afterlives of Anticolonial Prophecy in South Africa and Beyond (2009).


Wednesday, 31st May 2023
Register here:

Heated Conversations  is a new seminar series convened by Isabel Hofmeyr and Sarah Nuttall

        As global warming produces rising seas, falling dam levels and excessive droughts, generating new levels of multi-crisis in the world-now, so too are our conversations and discourses heating up in multiple ways. This seminar series takes up these questions of anthropogenic escalation and pedagogical shifts of gear. It does so in a context in which strengthening Southern bodies of knowledge is ever more crucial to engaging collectively with and comprehending these complex new rubrics and material dimensions. A forum broadly dedicated to the literary and cultural humanities, the seminar is hospitably open to wide participation from as many parts of the world as possible and will invite speakers to offer generative interventions for discussion and debate.

Isabel Hofmeyr is Professor Emeritus at Wits University; Sarah Nuttall is Professor of Literary and Cultural Studies at WiSER, Wits.