WEBINAR: Fictionality in New Materialism. Environmental Lunchtime Discussion

Why does the recent turn to matter in critical theory so often invoke fiction to explain its ideas? In this lunch talk, Tobias Skiveren, assistant professor at Aarhus University (DK), will discuss this question based his recent publication in Theory, Culture & Society.

Image may contain: Text, Font, Symmetry.

Slavoj Žižek's Absolute Recoil (2014).

Throughout the last decade, calls for a return to materiality have reverberated within the humanities and social sciences. Few, however, have noticed that this return has also entailed a return to fiction, as the new theoretical writings on matter regularly include elements of storytelling, fabulation or other genres of invention. This talk explores why this alliance between new materialism and fiction has come about: Why do scholars united by a common interest in ‘getting real’ consistently utilize a type of discourse defined precisely by not committing itself to reality? Examining works by Jane Bennett, Dominic Pettman, Stacy Alaimo, Astrida Neimanis, Donna Haraway, and Rebekah Sheldon, I’ll try to answer these questions by tracing three modes of fictionality in new materialism distinguished by inventing non/human entanglements, scientific knowledge, and future societies respectively. On this basis, the talk argues that fictionality is a particularly attractive epistemological tool for attempts to transcend anthropocentric regimes of truth.


The talk will be drawing on my article “Fictionality in New Materialism: (Re)Inventing Matter”, which currently features as an e-publication ahead of print in Theory, Culture & Society. Video abstract.

About the speaker

Tobias Skiveren is an assistant professor at the School of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University, but he will be working this spring as a visiting scholar at the University of Oslo. He has written extensively on the intersection of literary studies, new materialism, affect theory, and critical posthumanism, and his work has appeared in venues like Theory, Culture & Society, and Edda. Nordisk tidsskrift for litteraturforskning, and Matter. A Journal for New Materialist Research. He is also the author of several monographs on contemporary Danish literature, including Den materielle drejning. Natur teknologi og krop i (nyere) dansk litteratur (2016, co-written with Martin Gregersen) and Kødets Poiesis. Kropumulige kroppe i ny dansk litteratur (2020).

About the event series

The OSEH Environmental Lunchtime Discussion series consists of short, 15 minute presentations by invited guests, followed by a discussion. We invite speakers from a wide variety of fields, both academic and beyond. The presentations are accessible and are aimed at anyone with an interest in environmental issues. All are welcome.

Tags: Environmental Humanities, IKOS, HF, OSEH, Materiell kultur
Published Dec. 7, 2020 1:01 PM - Last modified Jan. 18, 2021 10:55 AM