2012 – Nature & the Popular Imagination | Pepperdine University, Malibu (Aug 8-11, 2012)
This conference was jointly sponsored by Pepperdine University and the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture. The conference directors were Chris Doran (Pepperdine University) and ISSRNC Board member Sarah M. Pike (California State University, Chico). It examined the complex intersections of religion, nature and popular culture. Sessions focused on broad cultural and geographic areas and included sessions on “Eden and Apocalypse,” “Technoculture: Zombies, Psychedelics and Digital Nature,” “Teaching Religion, Nature and Culture,” “The Therapeutic Ecology of Rivers,” “Imagining the Land and Landscapes,” “Avatar,” and “The Legacy of Aldo Leopold.” Some general areas of presentation included nature in Malibu and Hollywood, literary discourses of nature, theology and nature, ethics, popular representations of animals, urban nature and religion, cinematic representations of nature, activist communities. The conference was held on Pepperdine’s beautiful campus of wide-open spaces and ocean views. It also offered unique opportunities to visit Malibu’s famous beaches and the greater Los Angeles area, and included a “Secret Beaches” guided tour by local writer/scholar Jenny Price.
Conference participants came from 24 states in the USA as well as from 13 countries, including Canada, India, Lithuania, Russia, Germany, Italy, Guyana, France, the Netherlands, Hungary, Bosnia, the United Kingdom and Australia. As always, the conference made possible enriching conversations across the disciplines of literature, biology, religious studies, anthropology, history and other areas. Keynote speakers included one of the most prolific comedy directors in Hollywood, Tom Shadyac, The Hon. (Dr.) Mark Ridley-Thomas, Supervisor, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and three scholars who are well known for their contributions to the study of religion, nature and culture: Adrian Ivakhiv (University of Vermont), Candace Slater (University of California, Berkeley), and ISSRNC President, Laura Hobgood-Oster (Southwestern University).
For more information about this wonderful event, see the Final Program below.