Energy | 2016-2017


 Each year the Humanities Lab undertakes an investigation of a specific question or topic. For the 2016-2017 academic year  we are investigating questions of energy, especially focusing on interdisciplinary and cultural perspectives.

Join us for one event or for the whole series! All events are free and open to the public.


In this series of linked lectures, readings, workshops, and discussions we will focus on the concept of energy. We will explore major contemporary approaches to energy use, the environmental impact of energy, and our changing approaches to energy needs, conservation, and design.  We will also hear from researchers in emerging fields such as Energy Humanities, who approach the critical questions of our relationship to materials, fuels, and resources as informed not just by science or policy but also by human cultures, traditions, and philosophies. In their interdisciplinary, critical, and historical perspectives about energy forms we discover the role the humanities and social sciences can play in informing  policy and public awareness of our energy uses.


Fall 2017:

Fuel: History of a Strange Concept

Karen Pinkus, Department of Romance Studies, Cornell University

Monday September 26, 2016, 1 pm



Cruising the Petro-state:  Car Culture and Nigerian Cinema

Lindsey Green-Simms, Department of Literature, American University

Wednesday November 2, 2016, 1 pm



“After Oil: Transitioning to a New World of Energy”

Imre Szeman, University of Alberta

Tuesday, November 15, 2016



Spring 2017

Profane Energies/Sacred Narratives: On Religion and Environmentalism

Evan Berry, Department of Philosophy and Religion, American University

Wednesday February 15, 2017,  1 pm



The Energy of Objects: Loving and Loathing Our Material Things

Arielle Bernstein, American University

March 1, 2017, 1 pm



Learning from Butterflies: Understanding and Predicting Butterfly Responses to a Warming Climate

Leslie Ries, Department of Biology, Georgetown University

Wednesday, March 29, 2017



Energy Policy Today: The Environment, the Economy, and Contemporary Politics

Claire Brunel, American University

Wednesday, April 12, 2017