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Back to the Roots: Corona and the Crisis of Connection

Even before the coronavirus emergency, scholars in the social sciences asserted that in spite of our global interconnectedness, we are going through a crisis of connection. They argue that modernity and its emphasis on the human being as an individual, autonomous subject have caused a loss of the primacy of relations, resulting in empathy fatigue and a rise in loneliness and depression, and they call for a paradigm shift in our perception of social relations. Ecocritical and cultural materialist studies suggest that one key to this lies in expanding our sense of connection beyond the human sphere to encompass non-human others and the environment.

This lecture will enquire into the state of connection in the current situation. I approach the collective experience of an enforced rupture in our habits of engaging in human contact as a moment to rethink our relations to place and the environment and to re-energise a search for and belief in a new sustainable normalcy. Focusing on a recent surge in home gardening initiatives in lockdown, I examine how these practices contribute to a renewal of place and other relations and a new appreciation of interdependency as a creative opportunity.

About the speaker(s)


Dr Vera Alexander
Vera Alexander is a Senior Lecturer in European Cultures and Literatures (English) at the University of Groningen. Her research interests comprise ecocriticism, postcolonial, transcultural and diasporic studies, travel and mobility, life writing, the bildungsroman and children's writing. She is completing a monograph on Anglophone garden writing as life writing, funded by the Danish Carlsberg Foundation.

Last modified:27 May 2020 11.05 a.m.