Contemporary environmental theory has adopted vast spatial and temporal paradigms as a method for reckoning with global-scale environmental problems. These paradigms—increasingly bracketed under the concepts of the “Anthropocene,” “Capitalocene,” “World-Ecology,” and “Great Acceleration,” among others—offer what has been termed a "god’s eye view" of environmental catastrophe. While granting a macro-scale view of human agency and ecological change, these monumental concepts risk collapsing into what Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht has in another context described as an “ever-broadening present of simultaneities.” In response to the “big history” turn, this panel will attend to the cracks, fissures, and seams in the monumental. Engaging with the ASLE's conference theme, “Rust/Resistance,” we will consider ecology on a smaller scale, using the “non-monumental” as an entrypoint toward a more nuanced, less hegemonic approach to contemporary environmental conditions.
We invite scholars from all fields to join our exploration of the non-monumental. Topics may include but are by no means limited to: how micro-scale temporalities help us re-think human and nonhuman agency in the Anthropocene; how specific poetic, narrative, or media techniques register environmental change; the iconoclastic and non-monumental affordances of rust and other material processes of change, weathering, and decomposition; how non-monumental ecologies prompt redefinition of familiar aesthetic categories such as the sublime; the non-monumental as political practice, ecofeminist engagement, or history of science; and how the non-monumental might promote political and ethical action and resistance.