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13. Jun - 16. Jun 2023
kl 09:15 - 14:30

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Campus Kristiansand

Registration deadline

15. Mar kl 23:59

Ph.d. course: LIT606 Ecocritical Theory: Literature, Culture and Environment


13 Jun - 16 Jun
kl 09:15 - 14:30

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Campus Kristiansand

Registration deadline

15 Mar

Ecocriticism, that is, research focusing on the relation between literature, culture, and the environment, is a rapidly growing field both internationally and within Norway. As an environmental humanities discipline, ecocriticism contributes to interdisciplinary environmental research from the perspective of literary and cultural studies.

Ecocriticism is, however, a very diverse field that draws upon theoretical approaches from many different directions. This course will introduce participants to a variety of theories that relate nature and the environment to literature and culture and ask how these theories can be utilized for ecocritical research. The lectures included in the course will both provide a general overview of ecocritical theory and insights into many of the most recent developments within ecocriticism, such as cognitive econarratology, empirical ecocriticism, theories of risk and resilience in the study of environmental narrative, environmental justice and postcolonial ecocriticism, material ecocriticism and critical plant studies, as well as ecocritical pedagogy and literature education. The course also includes a discussion of the place of ecocriticism within the environmental humanities and of how multi-, inter-, or transdisciplinary ecocritical research can – or should – be.

The thematic course lectures will be held by internationally established researchers in ecocriticism and related fields. The course will generally have a strong focus on the combination of ecocritical theory and practice, and thus on the applicability of the theoretical approaches presented and discussed to the practical analysis of literary and filmic texts and genres. It will also provide a platform for participants to discuss and receive feedback on the theoretical aspects of their own projects.


Course content, admission and learning outcomes


  • Alexa Weik von Mossner is associate professor of American Studies at the University of Klagenfurt, Austria.
  • Hanna Straß-Senol is director of environmental humanities development at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society at the University of Munich, Germany.
  • Heather Sullivan is professor of German and Comparative Literature at Trinity University, USA.
  • Per Esben Myren-Svelstad is associate professor of Norwegian at NTNU, Norway.
  • Reinhard Hennig (course leader) is professor of Nordic literature at the University of Agder, Norway.
  • Sylvia Mayer is professor of American Studies at the University of Bayreuth, Germany.


The course awards 5 ECTS and is offered in cooperation by the PhD specialization in literary studies at the University of Agder and the Norwegian Researcher School in Environmental Humanities (NoRS-EH). The maximum number of participants is 20, and priority will be given to students who are members of the PhD specialization in literary studies at the University of Agder or of NoRS-EH. However, also students from both within and outside Norway who are not members of the PhD specialization or of NoRS-EH, but who are working on relevant projects within ecocriticism/the environmental humanities, are encouraged to apply.

The four-day course will be held on the campus of the University of Agder in Kristiansand, Norway. There is no course fee, but students who are not members of NoRS-EH will need to cover their own costs for travel and accommodation.

Recommended previous knowledge

It is recommended that participants before the start of the course have acquired basic knowledge of ecocriticism as a field of research (through, for example, having read one of the standard introductions into the field, such as Greg Garrard: Ecocriticism, 2nd ed., London/New York: Routledge 2012).

Learning outcomes

After completing the course, the students will both have gained a general overview of ecocritical theory, and advanced knowledge of the specific approaches addressed in the course. The students will know how to apply these approaches in the analysis of literary and filmic texts and genres, and they will know how to situate their own work-in-progress in relation to ecocritical theory.

Teaching methods

The course will consist of lectures with following discussions, as well as presentations and discussion of theory-related aspects in students’ own projects. The participants will read a selection of theoretical texts in advance of the course, which will both prepare them for the thematic lectures and serve as an additional basis of discussion.

Examination requirement

The course will award 5 ECTS for registrants who read the required literature prior to the course, participate in all lectures, and do a presentation of theory-related aspects in their own research project. It is also expected from participants that they participate actively in the discussion of lectures and of the other participants’ projects.

Assessment methods and criteria

Assessment of whether participants have achieved the learning outcomes of the course will be based on the oral presentations described above (“examination requirement”). In the case of candidates who are in a very early stage of their projects, a written assignment can be used as an alternative assessment method.


Tuesday, 13 June 2023

Room: F2 008

09:15–10:00 Welcome and introduction (Reinhard Hennig)

10:00–10:15 Short break

10:15–11:30 Alexa Weik von Mossner: From Cognitive Econarratology to Empirical Ecocriticism: Exploring Empathy and Emotion in Environmental Narrative 

11:30–12:30 Lunch break

12:30–13:30 Presentation and discussion of students’ projects
Marion Moussier (Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3): Representations of Climate Change in Contemporary British Novels: From Scientific Speculations to Human Experiences
Karl Kristian Swane Bambini (Østfold University College/University of Agder): Norwegian Futurisms: The Ecological Dystopias of the Norwegian Welfare State

13:30–13:45 Short break

13:45–15:00 Sylvia Mayer: Risk and Resilience Theory and the Poetics of Environmental Narratives

Optional: Walk to the restaurant via the Botanical Garden and manor house Gimle gård (ca. 3 km)

17:00–19:00 Dinner (at TilStede mat og mer, Markens gate 29)

Wednesday, 14 June 2023

Room: F2 007

09:15–10:30 Hanna Straß-Senol: Environmental Justice and Postcolonial Ecocriticism

10:30–10:45 Short break

10:45–11:45 Presentation and discussion of students’ projects
Helle Marie Vatne (University of Agder): Mediterranean crossing in contemporary refugee fiction
Yıldız Aşar (University of Bamberg): Buffalo Gals, Green Girls, and Somewhere In-Between: Twenty-First-Century Eco-Girlhoods in American Speculative YA Literature

11:45–12:30 Lunch break

12:30–13:30 Presentation and discussion of students’ projects
Johan Cederqvist (Luleå University of Technology): Lost salmon: An environmental history of hydropower expansion and extinction 1945-72
Gunnar Gjermundsen (University of Oslo): The Contemplation of Nature Among the Greek Fathers

13:30–13:45 Break

13:45–15:15 Environmental Humanities: How interdisciplinary can and should ecocriticism be? Discussion with Alexa Weik von Mossner, Hanna Straß-Senol, Heather Sullivan, Per Esben Myren-Svelstad, and Sylvia Mayer

Thursday, 15 June 2023

Room: F2 007

09:15–10:30 Heather Sullivan: Material Ecocriticism and Critical Plant Studies

10:30–10:45 Short break

10:45–11:45 Presentation and discussion of students’ projects
Håvard Haugland Bamle (University of Agder): Climate Song Lyrics
Veronika Arutyunyan (University of Hamburg): Beyond the Anthropocentric 'I': Reframing the Subject Position in Contemporary Ecopoetry

11:45–12:15 Lunch break

12:15–15:45 «Place-based ecocriticism»: Literary walk through parts of Kristiansand, ending in 19th century Romantic park Ravnedalen

Friday, 16 June 2023

Room: F2 008

09:15–10:30 Per Esben Myren-Svelstad: Literature Education as Sustainable Development: Ecocriticism and Unpredictability in the Literary Classroom

10:30–10:45 Short break

10:45–11:45 Presentation and discussion of students’ projects
Nadine Redmer (University of Stuttgart): Disclosing Literature as Part of Sustainability Research. A literary sustainability study on fictions from Germany, France and Norway
Ingrid Hilmer (University of Stavanger): Commitment to Sustainability in the Teaching of Literature

11:45–12:30 Lunch break

12:30–13:30 Presentation and discussion of students’ projects
Olena Tiaglova (Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena): Russian Literature of the Twenty-first Century in the Anthropocene Epoch
Jonas Taudal Bækgaard (University of Stavanger): Abstraction and enclosure in Göran Sonnevi's early poetry

13:30–14:00 Concluding remarks and farewell