Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Preeti Singh Awarded Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme Fellowship, 2021-22

Current fellow at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies, Preeti Singh has been awarded a Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme Fellowship for the academic year of 2021-2022 for her innovative, interdisciplinary research. 

This now marks the third GAHDT fellowship to be awarded to members of VitA, with Jordan Lovejoy currently serving as team fellow for 2020-21, and Mercedes Chavez as an inaugural fellow in 2019-2020. Congratulations to Preeti for her extraordinary scholarship!

Forthcoming Publication from Mercedes Chavez: Vernacular Landscapes: Reading the Anthropocene in the Films of Kelly Reichardt

Forthcoming in the March 2021 edition of Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism, Volume 48, Issue 1, a new article by Mercedes Chavez on developing a film studies specific methodology for the Anthropocene. The article may be accessed at the Afterimage site, or downloaded from Mercedes Chavez's site at

"Vernacular Landscapes: Reading the Anthropocene in the films of Kelly Reichardt" Abstract:

This essay employs Anthropocene frameworks to examine United States independent director Kelly Reichardt’s quiet vignettes of American precarity through the interpretive cinematic apparatus. Reichardt’s slow style and lingering gaze are primarily read as affective interpretations of human exhaustion or as a critique of capital temporalities. However, the critical attention paid toward the human in Reichardt’s films overlooks the primacy of landscape as a site of knowledge in the visual aesthetic. It is the entanglement between the human and the landscape in Reichardt’s films that invites an Anthropocene reading based on core concepts of time, scale, and the disruption of the modernist nature/culture binary. In Old Joy (2006) and Wendy and Lucy (2008), local, global, and planetary scales are made explicit and conflict with human structures such as gender and neoliberal economies. Reichardt’s work explores the manufactured landscape of Oregon and the Florida Everglades (respectively) in Night Moves (2013) and River of Grass (1994), pointing toward larger structural issues at play in traditional conservationism and narratives of progress. Finally, in her Western-influenced films Meek’s Cutoff (2010) and Certain Women (2016), Reichardt’s use of environmental sound provides the critique of American expansionist ideology’s depiction of and attempt to consume Indigeneity. Taken together, Reichardt’s filmography presents a compelling case for cinema’s role as mediator of the Anthropocene crisis.

KEYWORDS Anthropocene, slow cinema, landscape, time, Indigeneity, Kelly Reichardt

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Mercedes Chavez on Documentary Filmmaker Natalia Almada

Mercedes Chavez has written a new essay on Mexican-American documentary and fiction filmmaker Natalia Almada. Written for the Wexner Center for the Arts blog, "Read, Watch Listen," this essay is a companion piece for the Cinetracts '20 residency project. The project is modeled after the Cinetracts '68 project which documented and interpreted the May 1968 protests and their reverberations in Paris. Films of two minutes or less and made on location were requested from some of the most innovative filmmakers across the globe. Entries form intimate portraits of time and place in our current moment.

Almada's work may be of special interest to those in the environmental humanities given her use of water as metaphor, attention to specificity of place, and interrogation of the southern U.S. border.

Mercedes's essay may be read here: Cinetracts essay: Mercedes Chavez on Natalia Almada

Cinetracts '20 shorts, including Almada's, may be seen here: Cinetracts '20

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Two Fellowships for VitA Members

 Two members of our working group have been awarded 3-semester team fellowships by the Ohio State University's Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme (GAHDT). The GAHDT recognizes outstanding and cutting-edge interdisciplinary work covering a cluster of emergent themes including Im/Mobility, Livability, Community, and the amplification of methods and practices with social impact that integrate the arts and humanities.

Jordan Lovejoy has been newly selected to join the 2020-2021 cohort of team fellows with her dissertation focused on environmental trauma narratives in West Virginia. Congratulations!

Mercedes Chavez served in the inaugural 2019-2020 cohort, focusing on her dissertation project Origin Stories: Cinema in the Anthropocene which bring together cinema studies and environmental humanities frameworks. Working with a diverse team of arts and humanities graduate peers, Mercedes developed a podcast exploring the fellows' interdisciplinary work (forthcoming). 

Monday, August 19, 2019

VitA at ASLE 2019

This summer was a busy one for members of VitA, with three of our members participating in the 2019 Conference of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE) at the University of California, Davis.

Preeti Singh delivered her paper, "An Upside-Down Humanism for the Anthropocene: Three Scholar-Activists from India."

Mercedes Chavez delivered an excerpt from her dissertation, "Bugs, Birds, and Trains: Sound, Kelly Reichardt, and the Anthropocene Western," a discussion of how the use of cinematic sound allows space for posthuman interpretation. Mercedes also took part in the Affective Ecocriticism Workshop, exploring affective relationships toward nature, environment, and humanity.

Jordan Lovejoy participated in a workshop that looks to be the future of visual storytelling: "Using Maps in Scholarship and Creative Projects: Integrating ArcGIS Online, Story Map Apps, and Story Map Journals." Using digital technology to represent data, the workshop presented a novel approach to the challenge of imparting data to the public.

More to come on the wonderful experience that was ASLE '19!

Monday, February 11, 2019


Welcome to Voices in the Anthropocene, a graduate working group dedicated to an intersectional approach to issues surrounding our nascent epoch. We are composed of PhD students working in the environmental humanities at The Ohio State University, from folklore to aesthetics and beyond.

Our group came together in Spring 2015 under the direction of Prof. Thomas S. Davis. The founding members took part in Prof. Davis's Aesthetics in the Anthropocene graduate seminar, for some, their first introduction to the field. VitA was originally conceived as a graduate reading group but quickly grew to be a support system for our members. Primarily composed of female-identified scholars, we formed the group in part to combat the dominance of northern, Anglo and male voices in the field of Anthropocene studies.

As we have been able to support each other by pooling our resources and information, we hope to also serve as a resource for others in the field. Please check back at the blog regularly for posts from our members about their research and teaching. We will also post sample syllabi for those interested in teaching the environmental humanities or Anthropocene studies in the college classroom. Check back for more soon!