Friday, February 18, 2011


1) “‘Nature with a Capital N’?: Humouring Feminist Ecocriticism in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake”
Alison Toron

Friday, February 25, 2011 at 3:30 pm, Tilley Hall, Room 5

Margaret Atwood has long been recognized for her examination of wilderness, landscape, and environmental issues as a means of exploring ideas around nation, culture, and identity, particularly gender identity. Atwood is also well-known for her humour, often expressed in puns, wordplay, irony, wit, parody, and satire. In her work of speculative fiction, Oryx and Crake (2003), Atwood grapples with science and technology as destructive elements while weaving gender analysis around several issues, particularly the sexual exploitation of young women. Foregrounding the secondary narrative of Oryx’s experiences as a victim of child sexual exploitation, I argue that Atwood’s dry humour is being used as an arena in which to explore the intersection of feminist and environmentalist discourses. Although feminists have criticized the metaphorical association of women’s bodies with nature for its essentialism, Atwood is self-conscious in her use of this trope, revealing its constructedness and stressing its positive potential for the field of feminist ecocriticism. In order to further temper the potential essentialism in associating women with nature, Atwood engages in a sustained critique of socio-biological theory, demonstrating that socially applied evolutionary theories are malleable and can be manipulated to suit the interests of those in power. Thus, she treats socio-biological explanations for human behaviour with a healthy dose of humour and irony as she creates a cautionary tale about biotechnological fantasies of grandeur. Using a feminist ecocritical perspective, this paper will examine Atwood’s use of humour in Oryx and Crake as a means of remobilizing the nature-woman literary trope while deconstructing socio-biological assumptions.

2) Miscellaneous talks by Michael Ruse

Monday, Feb. 21, 3 p.m.
- Department of Biology Colloquium “What Every Biologist Needs to Know about the Philosophy of Biology" Room 303 Tilley Hall Wednesday, Feb. 23, 3:30 p.m. - Informal reception with the University Community, Alumni Memorial Building, Tartan Lounge, President's Room

Thursday, Feb. 24, noon - Lunch with faculty, staff and students (light refreshments provided, McConnell Senior Common Room, "Science, Religion, and the Contemporary University"

Thursday, Feb. 24, 5 p.m. Reception, 5:30 p.m. - Pacey Memorial Lecture: "Science and Religion: Why Can't the Americans be like the Canadians?" Alfred G. Bailey Auditorium, Room 102, Tilley Hall Dr. Ruse is a philosopher of biology, internationally known for his work on the creation/evolution controversy and his role in the science-religion debates. He was a key witness in the 1981 case before the American Supreme Court, which challenged the Arkansas state law permitting the teaching of "creation science" in the school system. Today Dr. Ruse engages in debates with defenders of intelligent design like William A. Dembski, , but he also criticizes the so-called "new atheists" like Daniel Dennett. His latest book, Science and Spirituality, contends that there is no necessary contradiction between science and religious faith. Currently the Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University, Dr. Ruse spent much of his career at the University of Guelph.

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