Mission Trails Regional Park

On Sunday, November 1st, we participated in a guided nature walk at Mission Trails Regional Park. Every week, the Park offers a wide array of guided walks in addition to the many trails you could explore on your own. We learned about the history of the Park and ancient Kumeyaay uses of native plants. On our walk along the riparian habitat trail, the park ranger helped us identify different kinds of plants and oak trees. We also learned that the region’s geology connects San Diego to Sonora, Mexico. If you pick up a rock, it just might be from Mexico!




Top: View from the Visitor’s Center

Bottom: From left to right: Melissa Martínez, Paulina M. Gonzales and son, and Ilaria Tabusso Marcyan

2015-2016 Working Schedule

FALL 2015

October 20– Ocean Currents and Human Culture: Crossing Disciplinary Borders (collaborative meeting with IFER

October 22nd– Meeting: Key readings and experimenting with course design; “What should be on an Environmental Humanities Course Syllabus and Why?”

November 1st– Field trip: Guided Nature Walk at Mission Trails Regional Park ; Hike leaves from the Visitor Center @ 9:30

Join us for our post-field trip discussion on “Engaging Community Partners”; location TBD on the day.


January– Meeting: Research Methods in the Environmental Humanities; “What do we do as ecocritics, how do we it, and why?”

February-TBD; Post Field-Trip Discussion on “Engaging Community Partners”

March – Session II with the Interdisciplinary Forum for Environmental Research 


April-New Roots Community Farm; Post-Field Trip Discussion on “Engaging Community Partners”

May – Meeting: Urgent Questions: “What are the urgent questions in our current work and for the future of our fields?”

– Session III with the Interdisciplinary Forum for Environmental Research

May/June– Environmental Humanities Symposium (co-sponsored with IFER)

Winter 2015 Meeting 2 Update

Professor Pasquale Verdicchio and Professor Emeritus Donald Wesling gave great presentations today about two essays from Material Ecocriticism, raising productive and varied questions that are challenging us to re-think what we mean by concepts like transcorporeality, storied matter, and nonhuman agency and to reflect on the role of the ecocritic today. In response to Pasquale’s presentation about the Mediterranean, visiting scholar, Susanna Lidström, drew our attention to the following article recently published in Science, “Plastic waste Inputs from land into the ocean.” If you’re interested in a copy of this reading, please email Paulina at p6gonzal@ucsd.edu for more information.

Ilaria Tabusso Marcyan (Ph.D. Candidate from the UCSD Literature Department) and Katrin Pesch (Ph.D. Candidate from the UCSD Visual Arts Department) will be presenting in the Spring 2015 quarter. We look forward to our continued conversation about what constitutes the “material” turn in ecocriticism, among other questions, so look out for our schedule events, which we’ll post in the coming weeks.

Winter 2015

We are excited to announce that our two meetings this quarter will consist of mini-lectures that draw from the essays in Material Ecocriticism (2014), edited by Serenella Iovino and Serpil Opperman. In the Spring 2014 quarter, we discussed Iovino and Opperman’s essay, “Theorizing Material Ecocriticism: A Diptych,” and agreed that our investigation into questions of the commons and mobile knowledges would benefit from further research in the field of ecocriticism.

Last quarter, we discussed Bruno Latour’s Pandora’s Hope, which we have found to be a useful introduction to questions about the human and non-human and intra-action between species and matter. We hope to build upon these questions through further reading, and hope that you can join us!

If you have any questions about how to get involved in our reading group, please contact Paulina at p6gonzal@ucsd.edu.

Wed, February 4th (11-12:30)

Name of Presenter/ Title of Essay

1. Melissa Martinez, “Creative Matter and Creative Mind: Cultural Ecology and Literary Creativity” by Hubert Zapf

2. Paulina M. Gonzales “Sources of Life: Avatar, Amazonia, and an Ecology of Selves” by Joni Adamson

3. Lesley Stern, “Pro/Polis: Three Forays into the Political Lives of Bees,” by Catriona Sandilands

Thursday, February 26th (11-12:30)

Name of Presenter/ Title of Essay

1. Pasquale Verdicchio, “Oceanic Origins, Plastic Activism, and New Materialism at Sea” by Stacy Alaimo

2. Donald Wesling, “The Liminal Space between Things: Epiphany and the Physical” by Timothy Morton

3. Ilaria Tabusso Marcyan “Mindful New Materialism: Buddhist Roots for Material Ecocriticism’s Flourishing” by Greta Gaard

Fall 2014

The Mobile Knowledge and Cultures of the Commons research group invites participants for a sustained conversation about Bruno Latour’s Pandora’s Hope (1999), a text that has influenced new trends in the fields of ecocriticism and the environmental humanities. If you are interested in participating, the research group will meet on Oct 23, Nov. 20, and Dec. 11 to discuss selected essays. All meetings will be held from 2-3:30 in the conference room at the UCSD Center for the Humanities.


We request that you please contact Paulina at p6gonzal@ucsd.edu no later than Oct. 10th if you are interested in joining the conversation this quarter. This is a preferred deadline to ensure we can order enough copies of the book. If you decide to join us after this deadline, please do so! You will be asked, however, to acquire the text at your own expense.



Prof. Verdicchio: Intersecting Theories of the Commons and Gramsci’s Common Sense

At our meeting on January 24th, 2014, Professor Pasquale Verdicchio presented the paper, “Commons Sense: Looking Outside The Normative Frames Of Progress.”

Below is an abstract Prof. Verdicchio wrote.

This paper represents a set of preliminary considerations that I intend to use further in reading filmic production during the period of Italian socio-economic history known as the economic boom.  This work seeks to take its place somewhere between the fields of enquiry defined by scholarly and practical issues that circumscribe the commons and the approaches from within the nascent subsection of film studies that is ecocinema.  The former can be said to include a variety of scholarly works that take as their beginning the history of the English commons, as well as contemporary circumstances surrounding common “resources” that are all important in an environmentally aware world.  The latter, eco-cinema, is of more recent emergence, baptized by Scott MacDonald in a 2004 article by the title of “Toward an Ecocinema.”  The overall theoretical framework is based on Antonio Gramsci notion of common sense.

According to Gramsci, every social group has its “common sense”, its “good sense”, which it has built up according to a philosophy of life that has enabled it to achieve social and historical coherence.  He further goes on to emphasize that common sense is not a rigid category but it “continuously transforms and becomes enriched with scientific notions and philosophical opinions of the day that have acquired currency. […]  Common sense creates future folklores, in other words a relatively rigid phase of the popular knowledge of a certain time and place”.[1]  It is finally through the successful establishment of a particular shared set of beliefs (common sense) that a process of consent becomes possible and enables one group above others to rule.  And so, beginning with an understanding of common sense as a shared resource, an extrapolation of those same terms serves well to contemplate how our relation to the commons reflects similar social agreements


[1] Antonio Gramsci.  Folclore e senso commune.  I piccoli. Roma: Editori Riuniti, 1992, pg. 48. Translation mine.


March 7th 2014 Meeting Update

At our meeting on March 7th, 2014, graduate students, Reema Rajbanshi and Niall Twohig, from the UCSD Department of Literature presented some of their work in progress. Underpinning both presentations was the notion of how histories are made and made mobile across time and space through the interpretative and methodological strategies encoded in diverse cultural forms.

In “Comparative Indigeneities, Distinctive Subalternities: The Guarani Land Movement in Birdwatchers & The Rabha Witch Hunt in We Want To Live,” an early version of her qual paper, Reema tracks discourses of indigeneity and subalternity, considering their overlaps and distinctions in the Brazil-based film “Birdwatchers” and the India-based documentary “We Want To Live.” Centering tribal subjectivity (Guarani-Kaiowa, Rabha) in relation to land, terror, and nation, her paper complicates nation-state and multicultural frameworks in order to articulate more complexly the material and discursive conditions compelling displacement and containment of tribal bodies. In the case of “Birdwatchers,” this analysis focuses on the trajectory of the Guarani Land Movement from Reserva to ancestral grounds commonly identified as cattle ranch; in the case of “We Want To Live,” this analysis explores the gendered violence against Rabha women identified as witches and expelled from the tribal village.

Niall’s paper, titled “A Gesture in May: Afterimages of Self-Immolation Beyond the Memory War,” untangles the memories surrounding George Winne Jr.’s self-immolation, which occurred at the University of California San Diego during a moment of intensified protests against the U.S. imperial war in Vietnam. Reading against the grain of archival accounts that construct the self-immolation as wasteful or destructive, Niall offers an alternative reading of the gesture that he gleans from oral histories, films, and memorials that reposition the individual act within collective structures of feeling.

Our next meeting will be on May 7th, 2014 from 9:30-11am in the UC Center for the Humanities. Contact Paulina at p6gonzal@ucsd.edu, for a copy of the reading we will discuss.

Common Knowledges Symposium 2014


In conjunction with the 2014 Binder Lecturer Prof. Serenella Iovino

Sponsored by the IICAS, the UCSD Center for the Humanities, and the Department of Literature



WEDNESDAY   MAY 14, 2014 

4:30-7:30 PM De Certeau Room, Lit 155

     Presentations by Prof. L. Stern, Prof. M. Lollini, and  L. Ryan

Prof. Serenella Iovino, Respondent

Prof. Pasquale Verdicchio, Moderator


                         PROF. LESLEY STERN, Dept. of Visual Arts, UC San Diego

Tyres and Tomatoes: Writing the landscape.

 Los Laureles Canyon runs between Tijuana and San Diego. The canyon connects and divides two countries, connects an informal settlement with a protected estuary, urban congestion with a restored natural habitat. Los Laureles Canyon has served as a laboratory for various disciplinary investigations—ethnography, ecology, urban planning, border studies.  Drawing on these approaches the presentation asks how might we write the story of the canyons and their inhabitants in that space where ideas of ‘landscape’ and conceptions of  ‘the garden’ intersect? How do we write ecocriticism?


Writing in the interstices between cultural studies, memoir, and environmental history, Lesley Stern expands the ways we see multispecies worlds. Stern will read from her genre-bending book-in-process, in which a natural/social landscape on the southern California-Mexico border comes to life as both cosmos and microcosm. Her dream-like work The Smoking Book (1999) has been described as “an innovative, hybrid form of writing…at once intensely personal and kaleidoscopically international.” She is Professor Emeritus in the Visual Arts Department UC San Diego.


 PROF. MASSIMO LOLLINI, Dept. of Romance Languages, University of Oregon

Sicilian Ruins from Vittorio De Seta’s Documentaries to Vincenzo Consolo’s Cityscapes.

Vittorio De Seta’s documentaries are considered masterpieces of world cinema. These films were shot in Sicily between 1954 and 1955 to document, with a certain urgency, the work of the tuna and sword-fishermen whose world was thought to be fast disappearing. Prof. Lollini will discuss these documentaries, along with De Seta’s later piece Sicily Revisited, made for Italian television in 1980, to address the dramatic ecological and cultural consequences of the ruins of that material culture.  The filmic analysis will be complemented with a reading of essays by Vincenzo Consolo, another great witness to contemporary Sicilian ruins in our globalized world.  In conclusion Prof. Lollini will consider how De Seta’s documentaries and Consolo’s essays speak to contemporary environmental debates and the search for a sustainable human relationship to the environment.  


Prof. Iollini is a graduate of the University of Bologna, Italy. He earned his M.A. and PH.D. in Italian from Yale University.  In 1992, he joined the faculty of the University of Oregon where he is now Full Professor.  His publications include Le Muse, le Maschere e il Sublime: G.B. Vico e la Poesia nell’età della Ragione Spiegata (Naples: Guida, 1994) and Il vuoto della forma. Scrittura, testimonianza e verità (Genoa: Marietti, 2001)

  LESLIE RYAN, Dept. of Ecosystems and Society, Oregon State University

Ecological Forestry and the Honorable Harvest:

The Blue River Landscape Study, Willamette National Forest, Oregon

Forest production and management practices have long focused on removing the complex diversity and fullness of the forest, replacing the mosaic of forest with monocultural tree farms that greatly advantage one species to the disadvantage of others. Ecological forestry is a new model of timber harvest that uses fire and leaves biological legacies of mature trees, which in turn can seed the next forest. The Blue River Landscape Study in Oregon’s Central Cascade Range is an example of Ecological Forestry in practice. The existing, mature Douglas-fir forest was harvested with some trees left standing, and then using historical records of regional fire regimes as a guide, the logged landscape was burned. Dr. Ryan’s talk will examine the Blue River Landscape Study through the eco-cultural framework of Traditional Ecological Knowledge and the concept of an honorable harvest. Indigenous knowledge of the honorable harvest has the potential to ground our relationship with productive landscapes such as the forest and the more-than-human world in empathy and the particularities of place.


Ryan received a research degree (M.E.D.) from Yale University’s School of Architecture. She is in the Forest Ecosystems and Society Ph.D program at OSU where her research focuses on science-art interactions.  Ryan is the recipient of the Rome Prize in Landscape Architecture (1995), and a Graham Foundation grant.


Prof. Iovino is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Turin in Italy. Her research focuses on all aspects of environmental literary criticism, endangered landscapes and cultural biodiversity. Her recent works include Material Ecocriticism (forthcoming), and Ecologia Letteraria, una strategia della sopravvivenza (2006). Iovino’s current book-project is Ecocriticsm and Italy: Ecology, Resistance and Liberation and is under contract with Bloomsbury Academics.


Prof. Verdicchio is Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at UC San Diego. He teaches Cultural Studies, Film, and Environmental literature.  He is a member of the Mobile Knowledge and Cultures of the Commons Research Group.

Call for Papers – Climate Change Conference


Call for Papers

The Seventh International Conference on Climate: Impacts and Responses will be held at UBC Robson Square, Vancouver, Canada, 10-11 April 2015. This annual event seeks to create an interdisciplinary forum for discussion of evidence of climate change: its causes, its ecosystemic impacts, and its human impacts.

The conference also explores the technological, strategic, and social responses to climate change. Proposals for paper presentations, poster sessions, workshops, roundtables or colloquia are invited, addressing the impacts of and responses to climate change through one of the following themes:

* Scientific Evidence

* Assessing Impacts in Divergent Ecosystems

* Human Impacts and Impacts on Humans

* Technical, Political, and Social Responses

Presenters have the option to submit completed papers to The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses for possible publication. If you are unable to attend the conference in person, community membership includes the option to submit a video presentation, and/or submission to the journal for peer review and possible publication, as well as subscriber access to The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses.

The deadline for the current round of the call for papers is 11 March 2015. Please visit our  website for more information on submitting your proposal, future deadlines, and registering for the conference.

Vancouver and the Climate Change Conference

Vancouver has set an ambitious goal to become the world’s Greenest City by 2020 to ensure that they remain a liveable and resilient city in the face of environmental challenges. As part of their efforts they have become the first municipality in Canada to enact a comprehensive climate change adaptation strategy by incorporating climate change adaptation measures into new projects and the daily operations for all City business. These actions will guide how Vancouver builds and maintains city streets, sewers, building infrastructure, and parks and greenspaces to ensure they are resilient to climate change. Vancouver’s responses to issues of climate change make it the perfect venue for the 2015 Climate Change Conference.

Submit a Proposal to the 2015 Conference

Common Ground Publishing

University of Illinois Research Park

2001 South First Street, Suite 202

Champaign, IL 61820 USA

For more information go to http://www.newsletter.illinois.mx3a.com/vo/climate2015a.html