For Michael Ziser, Associate Professor of English at UC Davis and director of the Environmental Humanities Supercluster, ecocriticism offers a lens through which to examine virtually any kind of text, including material normally associated with history, post-colonial studies, agriculture, even popular culture.
Recently, Ziser has begun to write about another practical aspect of American life: oil. According to Ziser, our culture’s investment in oil is not just material, but symbolic. He hopes that if we recognize the power of oil as a symbol, we just might be able to separate myth from reality, and make more sensible decisions about our energy future.
Josh Ottum is Professor of Commercial Music at Bakersfield College. He holds a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Arts from Ohio University and an MFA in Integrated Composition Improvisation and Technology from UC Irvine.
Ottum’s research explores how sounds reflect meaning in culture. His dissertation explores the effects of background music on the environmental imagination and his talk will build on this research, asking how specific music and sounds in Bakersfield can teach us about the centrality of oil in our everyday lives.