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Paget/Hoy Speaker Series

Date & Time:
November 18, 2010 | 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Dianne Chisholm, University of Alberta

Landscapes of the New Ecological West: Writing and Seeing Beyond the Wilderness Plot

As a popular idea
and ideology the “New West” has directed the cultural and economic development
of western North America for over a century. If the American West was first
defined and developed by a westward-moving, land-grabbing and land-breaking
pastoral frontier, the New West redefined and redeveloped the western landscape
with its imperial earthworks of industrial agriculture, hydrology, forestry,
mining and urbanization. Historians identify for critique a contradictory
“wilderness plot” behind New West development. On the one hand, the New West devalues
wilderness as worthless wasteland and plots to extract its wealth of natural
resources with little concern for sustainable land use; on the other, it plots
to preserve wilderness from land use in appreciation of its inherent moral and
aesthetic value. Focus on this double-edged plot divides critical attention
into either/or–environmentalist versus industrialist–thinking, and it occludes
awareness of western North America’s complex landscape ecology. This
illustrated talk introduces audiences to the new ecological west–its
potentially sustainable mosaic of aboriginal territories, industrial grids,
urban satellites, minority enclaves and cultures of habitat–that contemporary
landscape writers and photographers are currently framing into view.

Dianne Chisholm completed her doctoral
degree at Oxford University and is currently Professor of English Literature in
the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta. She
teaches and researches in the areas of environmental philosophy and literature,
American modernism and modernity, and cultural theory and practice.

Her recent
publications include Queer Constellations: Subcultural Space in the Wake of
the City
, and a special issue on Deleuze
and Guattari's Ecophilosophy
for Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging
, as well as many articles and chapters in her respective
areas of specialization.

She is a third-generation Albertan and, in her leisure time, a
dedicated mountaineer. 

About the Paget/Hoy Speaker Series

Housed in the Department of English in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Calgary, the Paget/Hoy Speaker Series was
established in 1992 by Carolynn Hoy and the late J. Robert Paget to enhance the
intellectual experience of the local community and the U of C by bringing
distinguished speakers to Calgary. Over the years, the series has brought to
the city Sid Marty, Rosemary Sullivan, Carol Shields, Jane Urquhart, J. Hillis
Miller, Brad Fraser and the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada, John