Future Humanities Institute Inaugural Lecture Series - Burning Up With Rilke: Elegy, Ecology, Action

4 Oct 2022

Thursday 13 October 2022 @ 5 pm in Boole 4

Speaker: Prof. Caitríona Ní Dhúill, Department of German, SLLC / ERI

Respondent: Prof. Astrid Wingler, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences / ERI

An open discussion and wine reception will follow the lecture and response

How do we read major works of literature and art in new ways in the face of climate change, and how does the practice of attentive reading help us to navigate an increasingly uncertain future? Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies – completed a century ago, the same year in which Eliot’s The Waste Land and Joyce’s Ulysses were published – serve in this lecture as a challenge to the ‘Future Humanities’ in an era of ecological crisis. The lecture asks how we can encounter Rilke’s poems on their terms and our own, while disentangling our readings from outmoded discourses of mastery and mystery and from the industrious gatekeeping of professionalised philology. Finding ourselves atthe crossroads between ecocidal destruction and necessary transformation, we can do worse thanslow down, acknowledge our differences, and learn to read with more care. Rilke’s Elegies can allow
us to do precisely that; what we do after we read them is up to us.

Caitríona Ní Dhúill is professor in German at the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, UCC, and an affiliate of the Environmental Research Institute. Her research interests are in modern German literature and thought, utopian imagination, and life writing. Her monograph Metabiography: Reflecting on Biography was published in 2020 by Palgrave.

Astrid Wingler joined UCC as Professor of Plant Biology in 2015, and she is Head of the School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences. Her main research interest is the response of plants to their environment, with her current work focusing on how plant biology can contribute to addressing the climate crisis through mitigation and adaptation.


Department of German


First Floor, O' Rahilly Building, UCC