How can literary studies contribute to a just transition to sustainable society?

Thursday 2 November 2023 (09:30-14:00)

An online symposium organised by the University of Birmingham (Birmingham, UK, and Dubai, UAE) and the Commission on Science and Literature (DHST/IUHPST)


Two of the designated themes for COP28, to be hosted by the United Arab Emirates in November and December 2023, are a ‘Just Energy Transition’ and ‘Youth, Education and Skills’. Science is fundamental to our understanding of climate change, while technology will have a key role to play in addressing it. At the same time, Arts and Humanities subjects such as literature have a vital contribution to make. Literary studies can help to foster empathy with those on the front line in the climate crisis, to process emotional responses to the changes happening to our world, to focus attention on the value of nature and our part within it, and to imagine the sustainable future we need to create together. 

This online symposium brings together early career scholars and research students from around the world to present case studies showing how research and education in literature can contribute to a just transition to a sustainable future.  

Panel 1 – Poetry 9:30-10:30 (UK)/13:30-14:30 (UAE)


  • Chair: Prof John Holmes
    Professor of Victorian Literature and Culture, University of Birmingham (UK)
    President, Commission on Science and Literature 
  • Alessio Mattana, postdoctoral researcher, University of Turin, Italy 
    ‘Early-Modern Women’s Poetry and Fiction as a Means to Re-Imagine the Environment’ 
  • Jasmine Tan Hui Jun, MA student, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
    "How Can the Oceans Save Us?": Locating the Sea in Self through Diane Ackerman's Poetry 
  • Rosemary Lucadou-Wells, PhD graduate, University of Dame, Australia
    ‘Poetry education as a means of coping with climate change’ 

Panel 2 – Bearing Witness 11:00-12:00 (UK)/15:00-16:00 (UAE)

  • Chair: Dr Dorothy Butchard
    Lecturer in Contemporary Literature & Digital Cultures, University of Birmingham (UK) 
  • Gautam Joseph, PhD student, KCL, UK, and National University of Singapore
    ‘Reimagining Alternative History: Attending to Translation and Literary Form within Projects of Digital Climate Witness’ 
  • Loredana Filip, PhD student, LMU, Munich, Germany
    ‘The Role of Literary Studies in Unveiling Nonhuman Sentience’ 
  • Inna Gamaliia, MA student, Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University, Ukraine 
    ‘Fighting the Plague’ 
  • Maddie Reid, PhD student, University of Glasgow, UK
    'Fossil infrastructures in Wendy Red Star’s photography: history, autonomy, and futurity of the Apsáalooke tribe' 

Panel 3 – Stories and Storytelling 12:45-14:00 (UK)/16:45-18:00 UAE)

  • Chair: Dr Niveen Kassem
    Assistant Professor in Arabic Cultural Studies, University of Birmingham (Dubai) 
  • Dion Dobrzynski, PhD graduate, University of Birmingham, UK
    'Forest Ecology and Fantasy Fiction: interdisciplinary Environmental Engagement at Ruskin Land' 
  • Rosy-Triantafyllia Angelaki, postdoctoral researcher, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
    ‘The pursuit of environmental sustainability through Children’s Literature: the Solarpunk movement’ 
  • Paul Knowles, PhD student, University of Manchester, UK
    ‘Haunted Pasts and Possible Futures in Ecogeographical Short Fiction: Crisis and Chronotope’ 
  • Charlotte Hunt, PhD student, University of Glasgow, UK 
    ‘Using folk tales for a world dealing with environmental crisis’ 


Please register via the button at the top right of this page. You will be sent a link shortly before the event.