Stefanie Kyle Dunning is Professor of English at Miami University of Ohio. She is a graduate of Spelman College and the University of California, Riverside and a Ford Fellow. Her first book Queer in Black and White: Interraciality, Same Sex Desire and Contemporary African American Culture, was published by Indiana University Press in 2009. Her work has been published in African American Review, MELUS, Signs, and several other journal and anthologies. Her latest project, Black to Nature: Pastoral Return, Abolition, and Interbeing, is forthcoming from the University of Mississippi in 2021.
Plant Life: Notes on the End of the World
In this talk, Dr. Stefanie Dunning examines the novel Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler and the film The Girl With All The Gifts through an analysis of the metaphor of plants in order to demonstrate that the construction of the “human,” as an ontological category is at the heart of social collapse and apocalypse both in these texts and in our world. Theorizing ontology through plants, via the work of Suzanne Cesaire, Dunning demonstrates that the problematic categories of the human must be “grown out of,” (to use the language of plants) if the world is to be saved.
A Black and Living Thing: African American Engagement with Nature
In this talk, Dr. Stefanie Dunning examines the cultural perception that black Americans do not engage in outdoor recreational activities due to a lack of concern about the environment. Demonstrating that racism disincentivizes black engagement with nature, Dunning shows that not only do black people have their own environmental vocabulary and ways of engaging that are, at times, distinct from mainstream representations of outdoorsmanship, but that there is a burgeoning movement of black engagement with nature, in both an environmental and recreational context.
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