Participants: Jennifer Gabrys, William Kupinse (moderator), Robin Nagle, Elizabeth Royte, Susan Strasser
"Garbage has to be the poem of our time," writes the late poet A. R. Ammons in his book-length poem, adding that "garbage is spiritual, believable enough / to get our attention, getting in the way." The roundtable seeks to push this conception even further, considering waste as both metaphor and material. The discussion will employ an expansive definition of waste—from the physical detritus of consumer culture, to the abjection of marginal populations, to the critical dismissal of mass-market cultural productions, to the psychoanalytic processes of repression and sublimation. In keeping with the Center's emphasis on multidisciplinary approaches, the roundtable will bring together participants from various disciplines whose work intersects in significant ways with the concept of waste.
Jennifer Gabrys is Lecturer in Design at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She recently completed her PhD thesis, The Natural History of Electronics, which examines the global ecologies of electronic waste. Previously, she practiced landscape architecture and urban design in Los Angeles and Minneapolis. Jennifer's research and practice currently focus on design ecologies, communication technologies, and material culture.
William Kupinse is Associate Professor of English at the University of Puget Sound, where he teaches literature and the environment, British modernism, and creative writing. He has published essays on waste in the writings of H.G. Wells and James Joyce, as well as an essay on waste and Indian fiction, which appeared in the collection Filth. He is currently working on a book about literary modernism and waste, entitled The Remains of Empire, which brings together cultural studies and ecocritical approaches. His poems on environmental themes have appeared in Green Letters, Cimarron Review, and Cumberland Poetry Review.
Robin Nagle is anthropologist-in-residence for New York City's Department of Sanitation. She teaches anthropology and urban studies at New York University, where she also directs the Draper Interdisciplinary Master's Program in Humanities and Social Thought. Her research focuses on the anthropology of garbage, which includes labors of maintenance, landscapes of waste and wealth, material culture, and "unmarked" processes of urban life. Her book about sanitation workers, Picking Up, will be out next year from Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Elizabeth Royte is the author of Garbage Land, which Jonathan Miles describes as "a wake-up call for our disposable culture, falling somewhere between Fast Food Nation and Silent Spring." Royte's book traces the routes of contemporary culture's waste to its final, sometimes unlikely, destinations. Royte is also the author of The Tapir's Morning Bath: Solving the Mysteries of the Tropical Rain Forest. Her writings have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Harper's, National Geographic, Outside, Smithsonian, and numerous other magazines. She is a former Alicia Patterson Foundation fellow.
Susan Strasser is Professor of History at the University of Delaware and Senior Resident Scholar at the Hagley Museum and Library's Center for the History of Business, Technology, and Society. She is a scholar of consumer culture and has taught at The Evergreen State College, Princeton, George Washington University, and the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture. Her work has been supported by fellowships from the Rockefeller and Guggenheim foundations, the German Historical Institute, the Harvard Business School, the American Council of Learned Societies, Radcliffe Colleges Bunting Institute, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Cultures of Consumption Programme, Birkbeck College, University of London. She is currently working on A Historical Herbal, an account of medicinal herbs in American consumer culture.