University of Oxford

Ursula Heise: The Beautiful Violent Futures of J.G Ballard

The novels and short stories of renowned English writer J.G. Ballard—author of Crash, Empire of the Sun, and The Atrocity Exhibition, among others—frequently depict scenes of violence though lyrical language. In this EMPAC-commissioned talk, Ursula Heise, professor of English at UCLA and founder of the Environmental Humanities Project at Stanford University, will recount examples of these violent scenes and reflect on the role the media plays in them. Heise will respond directly to Kris Verdonck’s new work, BALLARD, which can be experienced at EMPAC on September 7. She will consider what it means to transfigure these violent visions from words into an art installation.

Ursula K. Heise is a professor of English at UCLA, a 2011-12 Guggenheim Fellow, and past president of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment. Her research and teaching focus on contemporary environmental culture, literature, and art in the Americas, Western Europe, and Japan; theories of globalization; literature and science; and the digital humanities. Her books include Chronoschisms: Time, Narrative, and Postmodernism (Cambridge University Press, 1997), Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global (Oxford University Press, 2008), and Nach der Natur: Das Artensterben und die Moderne Kultur [After Nature: Species Extinction and Modern Culture] (Suhrkamp, 2010). She is currently working on a book entitled Where the Wild Things Used To Be: Narrative, Database, and Biodiversity Loss.