Fellow 2023/2024VINCENT BRUYERE
Fellowship Term: 09/2023-01/2024
I am associate professor of French and affiliate faculty in the Center for the Study of Human Health at Emory University in Atlanta. I earned my PhD at the University of Warwick (UK) in 2009. Before joining Emory, I held academic positions at the Pennsylvania State University (USA) and Algoma University (Canada). In 2012, I was visiting research fellow at the Australian National University in Canberra. My research draws on literary theory, visual culture, and the history of the body in an effort to assess the impact of end-time scenarios on modes of humanistic inquiry, especially on modes of valuing the historical record. I am the author of two books, La différence Francophone: De Jean Léry à Patrick Chamoiseau (Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2012) and Perishability Fatigue: Forays in Environmental Loss and Decay (Columbia University Press, 2018). My third book, Environmental Humanities on the Brink: The Vanitas Hypothesis is forthcoming with Stanford University Press in September 2023. In Heidelberg, I will work on the third volume of the trilogy I started with Perishability Fatigue.
Apocalyptic and Post-apocalyptic Thinking in the Age of the Technofixtimes
The apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic imagination has been a defining feature of environmentalism. Toxic landscapes of extinction and previews of humanity in its fossil state exist as part of the civilizational record they simultaneously mourn and destroy at will. After all, images of the end are still images and these images tend to saturate the Anthropocene present. In an attempt to puncture the overinvestment in a lyricism of despair, my project turns to discourse and images of repair. More specifically, the focus is on the notion of technofix as it applies to the preservation of painted Paleolithic heritage in France through the creation of three-dimensional replicas: Chauvet II, Lascaux IV, and Cosquer II. A technofix designates a technological leap of faith taken in the face of an ecopolitical situations of impasse, externalizing the problem instead of confronting its structural underpinnings. The term is usually connoted negatively but I propose to reinvest this externalizing impetus. My ambition is to show that the ongoing digitization and re-materialization of endangered prehistoric sites is the locus of an emerging form of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic thinking that redraws the contours of a present marked by loss and the boundaries between history and geology, art history and natural history, art and technology, conservation and preservation, the analog past and the digital future. More saliently I argue that the replication enterprise is also a test case for ecopolitics that seek to externalize the ecological predicament by means of a surrogate world.