Category Archives: Ecocriticism

EU Climate-KIC

I haven’t managed to update the blog for a couple of weeks, as I’m currently balancing my research activities with a placement through the EU Climate-KIC scheme.

I’m learning a lot and it is fantastic experience of discussing my research – and its practical applications – with partners outside academia.

More on this in the coming weeks – in the meantime, here’s a little item about my placement which appeared on the University of Birmingham website:

Dr Louise Hardwick has been awarded 2000 Euro by the EU Climate-KIC programme Pioneers into Practice.

The award enables Louise to develop her research in Ecocriticism and Ecoliteracy through a specific training scheme (workshops, online exercises, and a dedicated coach) and to undertake a placement with a non-academic stakeholder, The Small Woods Association, a charity in Ironbridge with strong interest in practical applications of her research. It also strengthens Louise’s cross-College activities as a University of Birmingham BIFoR Interdisciplinary Leadership Fellow.

Ecocritism Keynote at Durham IAS

On Friday 13th May, I gave a keynote paper at the international symposium ‘Aesthetics of Crisis: Ecology, Disaster, Representation‘ which was held at the University of Durham’s Institute of Advanced Study, and was generously funded by the Durham Institute of Hazard Risk and Resilience (

The symposium was organised by Dr Kerstin Oloff (Hispanic Studies, Durham) and is part of a wider programme of activities. It followed the ‘Plotting the Crisis’ symposium held at the Durham IAS in 2013, and is part of the series of events run by the Ecology and the Arts Research group in the Modern School of Languages and Cultures at Durham (

I spoke on my recent research, and my paper was called ‘Experiments in Ecocriticism in the French Caribbean’.

It was a chance to discuss the ideas I set out in an article which will be published any month now… In this article, I undertake a cultural and political examination of the Manifeste pour les ‘produits’ de haute nécessité, a manifesto co-authored by a collective of leading Martinican cultural figures, including Chamoiseau and Glissant, in response to the general strikes of 2009 in Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, and Réunion. These  strikes focused metropolitan attention on the high cost of living or ‘la vie chère’ in the overseas departments. I argue that authors are creating new forms of hybrid cultural creation which aim to transform human attitudes towards work and natural life, and to address the potential impending environmental catastrophe in the Caribbean, and beyond.

What is the link to Zobel, you may well ask…?  Well, as I’ve commented before on this blog, my current research is identifying a number of environmental themes in Zobel’s work (see previous posts on my public talk at the Toulouse La Novela festival, my work with Birmingham Institute for Forest Research, and my page on Ecocriticism).

The day had a fantastic line-up of papers which discussed the anthropocene, depictions of migration, and Cli-fi, the branch of Sci-fi that focuses on environmental themes.

It was a pleasure to meet so many colleagues working in related fields, and it provided a rare opportunity to mix in an interdisciplinary environment. The other keynote was provided by Dr Mark Anderson (University of Georgia) who gave a fascinating paper on  “Latin America in the Anthropocene: Crisis and Cultural Representation” and has a book out soon on that research project. I’ll be looking out for it…




August activities and Zobel project summer shutdown

Last week I attended an international Summer School at the University of Oxford on Ecoliteracy.

Ecoliteracy is a broad term which refers to a range of different practices and theories focusing on how we interact with the natural world. In our current, rapidly urbanizing western societies, it is increasingly clear that an urgent rethinking of our relationship with nature is required.

I’ve blogged before about the importance of the environment in Zobel’s works, and my experiments at using the branch of literary theory called ecocriticism to address this neglected aspect of his work. I’ve also mentioned my new role at the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR) and you can read more about this here..

BiFoR and UoB logos and treeFrom his literature to his interest in Ikebana, the environment and the place of the human being within wider systems is something that urgently needs to be explored and reassessed in Zobel’s work.

The Oxford course was fantastic – the attendees hailed from many different continents and we were encouraged by our excellent teacher Jane Corbett to draw as much on our own experiences as on the theories about the environment that were on our reading list. My colleagues shared their own expertise in fields as diverse as health and safety, waste management, psychiatry, biology, retirement living and teacher training, which made for a rich and stimulating week.

It provided very fertile conditions (excuse the pun) to explore the environment in Zobel and I enjoyed setting my thoughts down on paper for my end-of-course assignment.

As a continuing professional development activity, it was refreshing to once again be the student (I’m not sure that ever stops)!


I also had the pleasure of seeing some Martinican colleagues who were visiting the UK. I took them on a whistle-stop tour of Oxford, and in amongst visiting colleges, they brought me up to date on progress with the Joseph Zobel centenary in Martinique. They were also excited to hear about what the Guardian termed my “Indiana Jones moment” 🙂

Now, it’s back to my desk! I’ll be focusing on drafting my book chapters for the rest of August, and then having a period of annual leave, so I’ll return to the blog in late September – à bientôt!

Summary en français of my public talk in Rivière-Salée

I have received the following write-up of the talk I gave at Rivière-Salée’s Centre Culturel last week, and with the kind permission of the author, who is an MA student at the University of the Antilles, I have reprocuced it below.

It was a pleasure and a privilege to share my work on Rivière-Salée’s most famous author in his place of birth.

Thank you for this summary, Françoise, I am delighted you enjoyed my talk!

Bonne lecture!

J’ai assisté ce mercredi 22 avril à une conférence sur Joseph Zobel, dans son fief natal, à l’occasion du centenaire de la naissance d’un « petit nègre de Petit-Bourg » dont le génie littéraire a été traduit dans le monde entier. C’était un avant-gardiste de la Négritude et de la Créolité, et il a trouvé en Louise Hardwick, enseignante-chercheur à l’université de Birmingham, en Angleterre, une grande spécialiste de son œuvre.

Zobel, Césaire, Fanon et Glissant ont été de grands hommes dont les écrits représentent une richesse étonnante de la culture antillaise et ont permis de faire rayonner la Martinique à l’étranger. Si Aimé Césaire est le plus connu, son ami, Joseph Zobel a une place de choix dans le cœur des Martiniquais, et plus particulièrement des Saléens.

C’était très impressionnant de rencontrer « une étrangère » venir parler avec autant de fascination et de passion d’un “enfant du pays” à travers la littérature qu’il a léguée aux générations suivantes. Louise Hardwick prépare un ouvrage sur cet écrivain majeur afin de faire découvrir au plus grand nombre la portée de l’œuvre d’un génie né il y a cent ans, sur les terres salées.

Ce qui fut enrichissant, c’est sa réflexion “écocritique” sur la relation de Zobel avec la terre (jardin créole et morne). Cette enseignante-chercheur de passage sur l’île jusqu’au 29 avril vaut la peine d’être écoutée. Sa maîtrise du français est remarquable.


Amicalement, Françoise DUVAL

Etudiante en Maîtrise à l’Université des Antilles 

Toulouse conference with Patrick Chamoiseau

(Version française ci-dessous/ French version below)


I’ve just got back from beautiful Toulouse where I gave a paper at the conference ‘Patrick Chamoiseau et la mer des récits’ (Patrick Chamoiseau and the sea of stories), held at the University of Toulouse – Jean Jaurès (campus photos below).

maison de la recherchelibrary

For the full programme, click here: Chamoiseau Conf Toulouse Sept14.

My paper was about Ecocriticism in the work of Zobel and Chamoiseau, and you can find out more by looking at my blog page on ECOCRITICISM/ECOCRITIQUE.

In addition to the academic paper, and more nerve-wrackingly, I also participated in a Round Table public discussion at an annual festival called ‘Toulouse La Novela’. This wonderful festival of ideas, science and culture takes place in the heart of the city each year. Our round table took place in a beautiful park in a Big Top tent (see photos below)!

At the round table, I explained the main ideas of my conference paper on biodiversity and the environment to the Toulouse public, and talked about Birmingham Institute for Forest Research and the need for researchers in the sciences and humanities to take a more joined up approach to tackle environmental challenges. A couple of joggers, wondering what was going on in the tent, even popped in! Patrick Chamoiseau then responded to the themes of my paper. He spoke with such passion about the Martinican environment that I’m feeling inspired to push on with my research into ecocriticism in Zobel’s work.

round table


Je viens de rentrer de Toulouse, où j’ai donné une conférence lors du congrès ‘Patrick Chamoiseau et la mer des récits’. Pour le programme, cliquez ici: Chamoiseau Conf Toulouse Sept14

Dans ma contribution, il s’agissait d’une exploration de l’écocritique chez Zobel et Chamoiseau. Pour en savoir plus, jetez un coup d’œil à la page ECOCRITICISM/ECOCRITIQUE.


De plus, j’ai participé (non sans trépidation) à une Table ronde dans le cadre du festival Toulouse La Novela. Ce festival d’idées, science et culture a lieu chaque année au cœur de la ville. Notre table ronde a eu lieu dans un très beau parc sous un chapiteau !

Le grand rondLe Chapiteau

Lors de la table ronde, j’ai résumé les idées principales de ma communication sur la biodiversité et l’environnement au public toulousain, et j’ai parlé du Birmingham Institute for Forest Research, en soulignant qu’il faut que les chercheurs dans les domaines des sciences et des humanités se réunissent afin de répondre aux défis environnementaux. A mon très grand plaisir, quelques joggeurs, curieux de voir ce qui se passait sous le chapiteau, ont pris la décision de rentrer pour écouter notre discours ! Ensuite, Patrick Chamoiseau a répondu aux thèmes de ma communication. Il a parlé de l’environnement martiniquais avec tant de passion que j’ai hâte de reprendre mes recherches sur l’écocritique chez Zobel…

New page on Ecocriticism/Ecocritique

Just added a new page on Ecocriticism and the project’s links with Birmingham Institute of Forest Research… Take a look (click on ECOCRITICISM/ECOCRITIQUE above).

Je viens d’ajouter une nouvelle page sur l’écocritique, ainsi que sur les liens de ce projet de recherche avec le Birmingham Institute of Forest Research… Cliquez ci-dessus sur le bouton ECOCRITICISM/ECOCRITIQUE

BiFoR and UoB logos and treeLogos BiFoR and UoB