In keeping with the Halloween spirit, the next lecturer in the Humanities on the Edge speaking series, Dr. Claire Colebrook, will focus on the concept of extinction within post-apocalyptic films. Dr. Colebrook is currently an Edwin Erle Sparks professor of English, Philosophy, and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Colebrook will present her talk, “What would you do (and who would you kill) in order to save the world?: Post-Apocalyptic Cinema and Extinction,” on Thursday October 31st from 5:30 to 7:00 in the Sheldon Museum of Art. Dr. Colebrook’s research interests include: contemporary literature, theory and cultural studies, visual culture, and the works of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze.
Today, post-apocalyptic films like Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), Waterworld (1995), and Zombieland (2009) are immensely popular. The growing popularity of the genre has been attributed to the rising awareness of existential threats like global warming, resource scarcity, and viral pandemic. Dr. Colebrook’s talk will contest this idea by arguing that post-apocalyptic films obscure the topics of extinction and resilience instead of bringing them in global awareness. The narratives of these films, in which the world is always saved, serves only to reinforce the notion that this world is the only world that matters and that no sacrifice is too great in order to survive. The survival of the human race has always relied on the destruction or oppression of other worlds and forms of life.
Dr. Colebrook has a substantial and impressive list of titles under her belt. In particular, Colebrook’s interest in Deleuze has spawned several books on the importance of his life and work: Deleuze: A Guide for the Perplexed (1997), Gilles Deleuze (2002), Understanding Deleuze (2002), and Deleuze and the Meaning of Life (2010). More recently, her work has reflected a growing interest in extinction and the Anthropocene. In her two volume set, Death of the PostHuman: Essays on Extinction, Vol. 1 (2015) and Sex After Life: Essays on Extinction, Vol. 2 (2015), Dr. Colebrook argues first, for a twenty-first century deconstruction of ecological and post-human futures, and second, against the notion of queer as counter-normative. In 2016, she co-authored the book Twilight of the Anthropocene Idols with Tom Cohen and J. Hillis Miller. This recent publication focuses on how language, mnemo-technologies, and the epistemology of tropes appear to guide the advancing destruction of the natural environment. Dr. Colebrook is currently the co-editor, with Tom Cohen, of the Critical Climate Change Book Series at Open Humanities Press and is finishing a book on the fragility of the human species and the earth.
Despite the popularity of superhero films, the post-apocalyptic genre does not appear to be slowing down any time soon. Apple TV is set to debut a new web series called See starring Jason Momoa, a television adaption of the graphic novel Snowpiercer (2013) will premiere next year on TNT, and the sequel to Zombieland, Zombieland: Double Tap recently arrived in theaters. Dr. Colebrook’s talk will help us reevaluate these films and ways they portray post-apocalyptic worlds and the survival of the human race. I can’t think of a better way to get some thrills and chills this Halloween.
We hope to see you there!
With love and respect,
Image from Torment Publishing Blog, December 16, 2018.