Anthropocene and Animal Studies Reading Group

Anthropocene geospiral

The Anthropocene Reading Group assembles a diverse cohort of scholars, artists, and thinkers across a range of disciplines to interrogate the place of the human in a dynamic, uncertain, and multispecies world.

From the fungal to the elemental, the animal to the isotopic, this group trains a wide-angle lens on those creatures, things, and assemblages which constitute our unequally shared and never-just-human worlds. Our readings do not abandon the human altogether, but rather draw upon the urgency of the Anthropocene to examine the past, present, and future of humanity’s embeddedness within a complex relational web. We recognize the environment as a site for human domination of marginalized beings, as well as a space for pluralistic understandings of nature, and a horizon for imagining new cosmologies and social formations.

We are a cohort (founded in 2014) that meets monthly to discuss critical texts, and seeks to feature a wide range of scholarly and artistic perspectives. Although the group is primarily a forum for graduate students in the humanities and related social sciences, all are welcome to join the conversation. Feel free to contact Rachel Cypher ( for more information.


Fall 2022

Friday, Oct 21, 2022 - on Zoom 
Lucas Bessire's Running Out (Princeton, 2021)

This is a gorgeous and timely meditation on aquifer depletion in the midwest United States. Letting theory bubble up from the empirical, Bessire gives us a sense for the world-ripping destruction involved in settler ilogics that bring into being the Anthropocene. Part memoir, part investigative research, it stretches the bounds of genre and is a beautiful example of public scholarship that describes climate change -- through the very concrete dilemma of aquifer depletion. It was a finalist for the National Book Award.


Friday, Nov 18, 2022 - on Zoom and in person at the Humanities Lounge
Kin, a collection of essays edited by Thom Van Dooren and Matthew Chrulew (Duke, 2022) honoring the philosophies and life (and untimely death) of environmental humanities scholar and founder Deborah Bird Rose. The essays help us to think about environmental humanities as a discipline, the Anthropocene as an organizing concept, and the extraordinary theoretical contributions Rose made, from counter-modernity to double-death. We also encourage participants to read Chapter 4 of Reports from a Wild Country, a meditation on settler colonialism and decolonization in Australia, in order to have a sense of where many of the essays have received their inspiration. 

Dandora Landfill and Plastics Recycling
Dandora Landfill #3, Plastics Recycling, Nairobi, Kenya 2016


Spring 2020 Calendar

In Spring 2020, meetings will be held Thursdays from 12:00pm-1:00pm in Williams Hall 616 according to the following schedule. Light refreshments will be served.

Thursday, February 6th: Dipesh Chakrabarty's "The Climate of History: Four Theses"

Thursday, March 5th: Selections from Carol Adams' The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory

Thursday, April 2nd: Kim Fortun's "Ethnography in Late Industrialism" and selections from Amitav Ghosh's The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable

Thursday, April 30th: Selections from John Bellamy Foster's Marx's Ecology: Materialism and Nature and The Return of Nature: Socialism and Ecology

Fall 2019 Calendar

Thursday, September 19: Tom Cohen, Claire Colebrook, and J. Hillis Miller – Twilight of the Anthropocene Idols (2016) *in advance of Claire Colebrook’s visit to campus on September 25*

Thursday, October 17: Deborah R. Coen – Climate in Motion (2018)

Thursday, November 21: Peter Singer – “All Animals Are Equal” (1974), Matthew Calarco – “Identity, Difference, Indistinction” (2011), and Lori Gruen – “Conscious Animals and the Value of Experience” (2016)

Thursday, December 12: Dominic Boyer – Energopolitics (2019) and Cymene Howe – Ecologics (2019)

Spring 2019 Calendar

Friday, January 25th - Marisol de la Cadena*, Earth Beings: Ecologies of Practice Across Andean Worlds (2015) 

Friday, February 22nd - Jennifer Mae Hamilton and Astrida Neimanis, "Composting Feminisms and Environmental Humanities" (2018)

Wednesday, March 20th (12:30 PM at GSC) - Allison Cobb*, Green-Wood (2010) and Brian Teare*, Doomstead Days (2019)

Friday, March 29th - Mel Y. Chen, Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect (2012)

Tuesday, April 2nd (12 PM) - Graduate Student Lunch with Allison Cobb and Brian Teare (registration recommended). This event is co-organized by the Poetics Working Group and will take place at the Kelly Writers House (3805 Locust Walk). Lunch will be provided.

Friday, April 26th - Val Plumwood, Feminism and the Mastery of Nature (1993)

Fall 2018 Calendar

Friday, September 14th - Carlo Ginzburg*, The Cheese and the Worms (1976) 

Friday, October 12th - Eduardo Kohn, How Forests Think (2013)

Friday, November 9th  - Jennifer Scappettone*, ”Precarity Shared: Breathing as Tactic in Air’s Uneven Commons,” in Kim & Miller (eds.), Poetics and Precarity (2018)

Friday, December 14th - Anna Tsing, The Mushroom at the End of the World (2015)