Image credit: John Quigley and Greenpeace (see here)
“If we are asked to reimagine humans as a geological force with trails of CO2 in their wake,
readers of Shakespeare are as well prepared as anthropologists or geochemists.”
Profile: A scholar of comparative as well as French-language literature, Phillip John Usher's research focuses on the early modern period and contemporary theory, with particular emphasis on classical reception, spatiality, ecology, and the Anthropocene.
Current Work: Usher is currently working on a long-term project about what he calls the "Humanist Anthropocene," in which he explores the theoretical and conceptual aporias of our current era via texts and images from the pre-geological and proto-scientific era of early modern humanism, as a challenge both to contemporary theory and received histories of early modern Europe. His related blog-workshop is here.
Forthcoming Publications (Books)
L'Aède et le géographe: poésie et espace du monde à l'époque pré-moderne (Paris: Classiques Garnier, due Spring 2017).
On the Exterranean: Towards a Phenomenology of Extraction in the Humanist Anthropocene (under final review with publisher).
Early Modern Écologies, co-edited by Pauline Goul and Phillip John Usher (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, expected 2018). [To be published in the series Environmental Humanities in Pre-Modern Cultures, edited by Gillian Overing, Heide Estes, Philip Slavin, and Steve Mentz.]
Forthcoming Publications (Articles and Chapters)
"Untranslating the Anthropocene." Forthcoming in: Diacritics, 44.3 (2017).
“The Night Before Geology: Fossil Stories from Early Modern France” in: Emily Thompson and Collette Winn (eds.) Storytelling in the French Renaissance: Literature, Art, Medicine, Science (Newark, DE: University of Delaware Press, forthcoming).
“The Revenge of the Mines: Earth-from-Nowhere versus Surfaces-with-Depths” in: Jeremie Korta and Dorothea Heitsch (eds.), Early Modern Visions of Space (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, forthcoming).
“Afterword: Climate vs. Weather” in: Sara Miglietti (ed.), special issue of Modern Language Notes (MLN) on “Climate and the Humanities.” Forthcoming, 2017.
“Atmoterrorism in the Humanist Anthropocene” in: Jeff Kendrick and Katherine Maynard (eds.), Words of War, Wars of Words (Medieval Institute Publications of Western Michigan University, forthcoming).
“Abordages dans le Quart Livre” in: Romain Meninin et al. (eds.), Rabelais inextinguible (Paris: Classiques Garnier, forthcoming).
“La Crète épique: La Franciade et la tradition des isolarii” in: Frank Lestringant et Alexandre Tarrête (ed.), Îles et insulaires (XVIe-XVIIIe siècles) (Paris: PUPS, forthcoming).
“Un Étrange adversaire : Phovère, le géant de la Franciade” in: Revue des Amis de Ronsard, forthcoming 2017.
“A Painting of Trojans / A Map of America: Early Modern French Reactions to Ariosto.” In: Jo Ann Cavallo (ed.), Italian Renaissance Romance Epic (New York: MLA, series “Options for Teaching,” forthcoming).
“L’intertexte virgilien dans les Singularités de la France Antarctique (1557) d’André Thevet” in: volume edited by Véronique Ferrer, Olivier Millet and Alexandre Tarrête (eds.), (Geneva: Droz, forthcoming).
Brief History and Earlier Research: Philliip John Usher was born in England. He read French literature at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK, before pursuing graduate work in Romance Languages at Harvard University, Cambridge, USA. He is currently Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature at New York University. His first monograph, Errance et cohérence: Essai sur la littérature transfrontalière (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2010), studies the cross-frontier spatialities of the early modern oikoumene. His second monograph, Epic Arts in Renaissance France (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), explores epic "building sites" in early modern literature and the sister arts. Usher is also the author of an annotated translation of Ronsard’s Franciad (New York: AMS Press, 2010; paperback 2016), co-editor of Virgilian Identities in the French Renaissance (London: Boydell and Brewer, 2012), co-editor (with Bernd Renner) of Illustrations inconscientes: écritures de la Renaissance. Mélanges offerts à Tom Conley (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2014) and (with Patrick Bray) of Building the Louvre: Architectures of Politics and Art (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins: 2014). Usher's research and reviews have appeared in journals such as L’Esprit créateur, the Revue des Amis de Ronsard, Romance Studies, Modern Language Notes (MLN), and elsewhere. He is also the founding editor of a new book series, “French Renaissance Texts in Translation” at AMS Press. Professor Usher also sporadically writes about film.
Talks (Spring 2017)
January 8, 2017, 10.15am: MLA in Philadelphia. Panel on the "Vibrant Renaissance."
March 2, 2017, 5pm: Université de Paris IV-Sorbonne, France: "La robe topographique de la Terre Mère aux XVe et XVIe siècles."
March 10, 2017: Cambridge University, England: "Exterranean Insurgency in the Humanist Anthropocene."
March 28, 2017, 6-8pm: EHESS, Paris, France: "Lettres de la Terre," lecture alongside Philippe Quesne (on his "Welcome to Caveland") at event "Les mondes souterrains" as part of the seminar "La connaissance sensible" (see poster below).
April 12, 2017: Université de Paris Ouest-Nanterre-La Défense, France, Congrès mondial de traductologie: "Translation, Hidden"
April 21-22, 2017: Cornell University, USA. Transforming Bodies conference, organized by the Early Modern Conversions Project and Cornell U. Paper: "Terraformation."
Talks (Fall 2016
August 18, 2016, 8.30am: SCSC conference, Bruges, Belgium: Chair of Panel on "Responses to Violence in Renaissance an Baroque France I."
August 18, 2016, 1.30pm: SCSC conference, Bruges, Belgium: Commentator on Panel "1616-2016- 400 Years of Les Tragiques."
August 19, 2016, 8.30am: SCSC conference, Bruges, Belgium: Paper "Agriculture vs. Mining: Renaissance Responses to Ovid" on Panel "Early Modern Environments: Plants 1," chaired by Rebecca Tortaro.
October, 20-22, 2016: "Premodern Ecologies: An Interdisciplinary Conference on Human Interaction with the Natural World in Medieval and Early Modern Europe," University of Colorado at Boulder, USA. Paper title: "On the Exterranean: Towards A Phenomenology of Extraction"
November 17, 2016, 6.30pm at NYU: "Recomposing the Humanities with Bruno Latour." A roundtable organized by Tim Duffy around the recent NLH issue.
December 2, 2016, 4pm: "Ronsardian Ecologies," talk at Renaissance Seminar at the Mahindra Humanities Center, Harvard University.
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