March 30 Lightning Lunch – EH/DH: Energy Humanities and the Digital Turn

Mar 11, 2021

Join the DHN as we conclude our winter 2021 Lightning Lunch series! With a focus on the intersection of energy and digital humanities, this lunch will explore how energy humanists have integrated the study of new media and digital technologies into analysis of infrastructure and the environment. We are delighted to host Anne Pasek (Trent University), Caleb Wellum (University of Waterloo), and Lisa Parks (University of California at Santa Barbara) for an engaging discussion on energy, culture, and communication in the digital era. The lunch will be moderated by Imre Szeman (University of Waterloo).

The event will take place from 12:00pm to 1:00pm EST March 30, 2021. Speakers will give short presentations on their work, followed by discussion.

Register here to attend!

Speaker Biographies:

Anne Pasek is an interdisciplinary researcher working at the intersections of climate communication, the environmental humanities, and science and technology studies. She studies how carbon becomes communicable in different communities and media forms, to different political and material effects. Dr. Pasek is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cultural Studies and the School of the Environment at Trent University, as well as the Canada Research Chair in Media, Culture and the Environment.

Caleb Wellum is a Research Associate at the University of Waterloo, Canada. He writes and teaches about modern history, politics, and culture. Dr. Wellum also serves as the Research Manager of the Petrocultures Research Group. As a member of that group, he contributed to the collectively authored book After Oil and a recent project on the possibility of a solar future. He is now working on a book about the 1970s energy crisis in the United States. Wellum has published on the history of energy conservation, oil futures, car films, and the future of the humanities, among other topics.

Lisa Parks is Distinguished Professor of Film and Media Studies at UC Santa Barbara. She is a media scholar whose research focuses on multiple areas: satellite technologies and media globalization; critical studies of media infrastructures; media, militarization and surveillance; and environmental media. Parks is the author of Rethinking Media Coverage: Vertical Mediation and the War on Terror(Routledge, 2018) and Cultures in Orbit: Satellites and the Televisual(Duke U Press, 2005). She is co-editor of Life in the Age of Drone Warfare(Duke U Press, 2017), Signal Traffic: Critical Studies of Media Infrastructures (U of Illinois Press, 2015), Down to Earth: Satellite Technologies, Industries and Cultures (Rutgers U Press, 2012), Undead TV (Duke UP, 2007), and Planet TV: A Global Television Reader(NYU Press, 2002). She is currently working on two new books, On Media: Twenty-one Lessons for the Twenty-first Century, and the co-edited volume, Media Backends: The Politics of Infrastructure, Clouds, and Artificial Intelligence.

Parks is Director of UCSB’s Global Media Technologies and Cultures Lab, which she initiated at MIT. Parks is a 2018 MacArthur Fellow and has held other fellowships and visiting appointments at the International Research Center for Cultural Techniques & Media Philosophy (IKKM) at the Bauhaus University in Weimar, Institute for Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg) in Berlin, McGill University, University of Southern California, and the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. She has been a Principal Investigator on major grants from the National Science Foundation and the US State Department, and has collaborated with artists and computer scientists. She is committed to exploring how greater understanding of media systems can inform and assist citizens, scholars and policymakers in the US and abroad to advance campaigns for technological literacy, creative expression, social justice, and human rights. Before returning to UCSB, Parks was Professor of Comparative Media Studies and Science, Technology, and Society at MIT.

Imre Szeman is University Research Chair and Professor of Communication Arts at the University of Waterloo, where he has worked since 2017. He previously held positions at McMaster University (1999-2009) and the University of Alberta (2009-2016). Szeman is the co-founder of the Petrocultures Research Group and one of the founders of the energy humanities, a new area of research crucial to addressing climate change.

Szeman’s main areas of research are in energy and environmental studies, social and political philosophy, and critical theory and cultural studies. From 1999-2009, he taught at McMaster University, and from 2009 to 2016 he worked the University of Alberta. Szeman is the recipient of the John Polanyi Prize in Literature (2000), the Petro-Canada Young Innovator Award (2003), the Scotiabank-AUCC Award for Excellence in Internationalization (2004), an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship (2005-7), the President’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision at McMaster (2008), and a Killam Research Professorship (2013). In 2015, he was awarded the J. Gordin Kaplan Award for Excellence in Research, the U of Alberta’s most prestigious award recognizing research excellence in humanities, social sciences, law, education and fine arts. In 2020, he will be the Leverhulme Visiting Professor in Critical Studies at the University of Glasgow.


Recording Available!

Thank you to everyone for such a wonderful discussion! If you were not able to attend the lunch, or if you would like to rewatch the talk, a Zoom recording is available here. Additionally, we have posted the resources that were shared during the discussion below.




Energy and Place

Energy Humanities

Solar Protocol


Further Reading:

Anne Pasek, Low-Carbon Research: Building a Greener and More Inclusive Academy