“An Impossible Dialectic” (Oct. 22)

Published: September 5th, 2019

Category: News

Pacific Island literature scholar & environmental activist Temiti Lehartel on climate fiction, indigenous struggle in Australia, and “Resisting and Revitalizing Perception”

An Impossible Dialectic: Resisting & Revitalizing Perception in Alexis Wright’s The Swan Book

Temiti Lehartel, Université Paul Valéry, Montpellier 3

October 22, 2019
Marston Science Library L-136
12–1:30 PM

The Swan Book, a 2013 novel by Indigenous Australian author and land rights activist Alexis Wright, has been called “the first great novel of climate change… and perhaps the first truly planetary novel.”1

Reflecting on Wright’s opaque Aboriginal realist and hybrid aesthetics, this lecture will investigate how Wright’s novel, still carrying and re-potentializing expression and sensation, revitalizes our apprehension of our entangled relations with lives beyond ourselves. Wright’s outlandish story calls our ethics of reading into question; we are taught hard lessons about readership endurance, the art of paying attention, and the necessity to better listen to voices evolving from beyond our perceptual range. Wright’s politically-charged, anti-linear dystopia challenges received Western ideals of teleological progress and brings us to wonder about the meaning of land and land rights without such ideals to define them.

About the Speaker

Born in French Polynesia, Temiti Lehartel is an environmental activist (350 Pacific) and graduate student in the Département d’Études anglophones, Université Paul Valéry, Montpellier 3, France. Her research focuses primarily on the effects of climate change in Oceania, indigenous struggle in Australia, ethical international development, and the emerging literature of Pacific Island climate fiction, in particular the work of Indigenous Australian author Alexis Wright (Plains of Promise, Carpentaria, The Swan Book, Tracker.)

The event will be presented in English and is free and open to the public. No advance registration is required.

1 Jane Gleeson-White, “Going Viral: The Swan Book by Alexis Wright. Sydney Review of Books, August 23, 2013.


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