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My name is Brent Ryan Bellamy. I am a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s. I currently research narrative, science fiction, and the cultures of energy.
Two central questions motivate my work:
1) What does it mean to imagine alternative energy futures?
2) how can we best understand, in order to move beyond, the social relations, infrastructures, and politics of fossil fuels?
I currently have three major projects underway that take up these two questions in varying ways:
- Edited Collection: Loanwords to Live With: An Ecotopian Lexicon Against the Anthropocene
Edited by Brent Ryan Bellamy, Chantal Bilodeau and Matthew Schneider-Mayerson
With the recent Paris agreement, an emerging global climate justice movement, and the vast transformations of climate change becoming more and more evident, it is clear that the world has entered an unprecedented period of intentional social and ecological transition. Whether this transition is framed and enacted as a simple replacement of fossil-fuel extraction with centralized renewable energy sources, or one that recalibrates human thought, infrastructure, and action to a greater awareness of our embeddedness in natural and more-than-human worlds remains to be seen. It depends, in some measure, on how thoughtful and creative human beings find meaningful ways to intervene in business as usual and guide it in more or less productive directions. One way to do so is through language itself: as linguists and scholars of literature have long understood, language not only reflects but shapes reality. Whereas a number of important recent works in the environmental humanities have reflected on the limitations of our existing ecological lexicon and the meanings of major keywords, we might ask whether we need not just new meanings for old words but rather a new vocabulary for a new era. Call for Abstracts due November 15, 2016
- Book Project: Remainders of the American CenturyWorking through literary history, cultural theory, and social critique, Remainders of the American Century investigates the cultural scripts of U.S. decline in post-apocalyptic novels. I track the genre from its manifestation in Ignatius Donnelly’s late-Nineteenth Century work, Caesar’s Column, to some of the most category defining post-apocalyptic texts of the late-twentieth and early-twenty first centuries, such as Eric Conway and Naomi Oreskes The Collapse of Western Civilization (2014). Defined by its breadth of literary, cultural, and historical readings, this book treats a wide range of works, including the writings of Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler, Carola Dibbell, Brian Evenson, Stephen King, Ursula K. Le Guin, Chang-Rae Lee, Emily St. John Mandel, Richard Matheson, Cormac McCarthy, Walter Miller Jr., Kim Stanley Robinson, and Colson Whitehead. The book draws its conceptual strength from within the novels themselves, which feature social and ideological remains—fragments of a world now gone. Remainders of the American Century addresses the difficulty of grasping history in the present through a form that challenges us to do so, and insists that we look at uncertainty and irresolution not as dead ends, but as creative ways to imagine the economic, environmental, social, and political limits of the present.
- Research Project: Petrorealism and Other Energy NarrativesPetrorealism and Other Energy Narratives addresses a representational problem that is also intensely bound up in social life: the problem of locating a form capable of representing the infrastructure and operations of oil is also one of fully grasping the environmental and social effects of fossil fuels. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have declared moot the problem of peak oil: the Earth’s oil reserves hold more fossil fuels than we can safely burn if we want to maintain human life on the planet in some form resembling that of the present. This realization shifts the problem from a crisis of scarcity to one of abundance, and adds urgency to considering the underlying reasons for our ravenous energy consumption. Oil remains a blind spot in narratives that imagine the future, for both capital and its opponents, and poses a challenging problematic: how to know about oil? My research will elaborate the ways have we begun to think with oil, if we cannot seem to think beyond it.