Polluted Places/Impure Spaces

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Participants in this seminar will examine the voices that emerge from polluted or impure sites. This "pollution" could take many forms, and comprise an array of relations. Any polluted locations — in as many forms as we can discern or devise — are fair game for our study: prohibited or tabooed Superfund sites, reconstituted dumps, artificial nature, tainted texts and ritually impure space.

These are the places that invite "cleansing" in the name of "purity" — like the swamps around New Orleans from which the maroon Bras Coupé strikes in G.W. Cable's The Grandissimes.

Of central concern are the ways in which the human is implicated in pollution of the nonhuman, and the degree of responsibility humanity must accept (and love it must show!) for what, in part, it has made "impure." This implication opens open several topics to consideration: polluted places with regard to race and class, queered spaces, bio-engineering, and places where ecosystems blur between one set of relations and another — between poison and purity.