Like Trees

Like Trees

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

5:30 PM–7:00 PM
Get Directions
In this Research and Academic Program lecture, Jonathan Flatley (Wayne State University / Clark/Oakley Humanities Fellow) discusses artistic concepts related to liking trees. He argues that liking (as distinct from love) is a feeling capable of motivating collective opposition to the ongoing, massive, catastrophic destruction of forests. Flatley makes that case through an examination of two distinct projects: Richard Powers’ novel The Overstory (2018) and Zoe Leonard’s photographs of trees that have grown into, around, or through fences. These projects illuminate that the way to create collectives opposed to deforestation is through a liking for trees that leads to becoming like trees. This likeness-creating liking opens people to the strange specificity of arboreal being and to an entanglement with trees.

Jonathan Flatley is professor of English at Wayne State University in Detroit. His research concerns collective emotion as it takes shape in aesthetic forms, and he is the author of Affective Mapping: Melancholia and the Politics of Modernism (Harvard University Press, 2008), Like Andy Warhol (University of Chicago Press, 2017), and co-editor, with Jennifer Doyle and José Esteban Muñoz, of Pop Out: Queer Warhol (Duke University Press, 1996). He recently completed a new book titled Black Leninism: How Revolutionary Counter-Moods Are Made. At the Clark, Flatley is working on a book about liking and being like trees.

Presented in person in the Clark auditorium. This event is free with a reception in the Manton Research Center Reading Room starting at 5 pm. A recorded video of this lecture will be released on the Clark's Youtube channel on February 14.

Image: Zoe Leonard, Detail (Tree + Fence) (1998/1999). Gelatin silver print. © Zoe Leonard.