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Critical Petroaesthetics

What is the cultural impact of petroleum, and how might the aesthetics of oil be a factor holding back progress on a transition to alternative energy? Scholars of literature, media, rhetoric, musicology, theology, and political science are looking for answers to these questions.

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At Ring 3, Oslo. Photo: Sissel Furuseth.

Petroleum is more than fuel. The cultural impact of this subterranean energy source has been immense over the past century. On the one hand, oil has been the very blood of modern global society, associated with wealth, ingenuity, progress, and movement. On the other hand, petroleum signifies exploitation of natural recourses, dangerous working conditions, decadent company cultures, and widespread pollution. How is this ambivalence reflected across genres, art forms and levels of policy making?

Critical Petroaesthetics is a multi-layered heading, pointing at the increasing numbers of books, films, exhibitions and other cultural products expressing critique of the powerful petroleum industry, but also at how politicians and oil companies make use of embellishing metaphors and narratives in their public image grooming. The petro-material reality of many cultural products add further dimensions to the significance of critical petroaesthetics.



Over the two years of initial funding, the collaboratory will organize a reading group and two workshops (2021–2022). Considering the importance of linguistic diversity at the Oslo School of Environmental Humanities and the adjoining community, the reading group sessions will alternate between Norwegian/Scandinavian and English.

Tags: Environmental Humanities
Published Aug. 21, 2020 2:27 PM - Last modified Dec. 5, 2022 1:35 PM