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The Nelson Institute's Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE) draws together faculty, staff, graduate students, and others from a wide array of disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences to investigate environmental and cultural change in the full sweep of human history.

Latest News

CHE Graduate Associate Marcos Colón wins international recognition for documentary film "Beyond Fordlândia”

Written and directed by CHE Graduate Associate Marcos Colón, documentary film "Beyond Fordlândia" (2017, 75 min) presents an environmental account of Henry Ford’s Amazon experience decades after its failure. The story addressed by the film begins in 1927, when the Ford Motor Company attempted to establish rubber plantations on the Tapajós River, a primary tributary of the Amazon. This film addresses the recent transition from failed rubber to successful soybean cultivation for export, and its implication for land usage. "Beyond Fordlândia" has been recognized with the best feature-length documentary award from the Cabo Verde International Film Festival, an Award of Excellence from Impact Docs, and the WWF award for Best Awareness-Raising Documentary.


This film was made with support from the Center for Culture, History, and Environment, the Nelson Institute, and the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program at the Unversity of Wisconsin-Madison. Visit the Beyond Fordlândia website for screening schedule and additional features.

Read and Listen: Edge Effects Digital Magazine and Podcast

Edge Effects, CHE's Digital Magazine, has a lineup of exciting original essays, commentary, and podcasts this fall. Enjoy recent recommendations of environmental books for the classroom , learn why Americans recycle, and listen to inspiring conversations with podcast guests including Anna Tsing and Louis Warren.  Coming soon Jesse Gant will interview Richard White about his new book on Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, Faron Levesque will give a take on the queer geography of Stranger Things, and Kevin Walters will explore the origins of the Wisconsin Idea. 


Find all content on the Edge Effects  website. Get the podcast sent straight to your mobile device or computer by subscribing through the iTunes store. You can also find episodes on Google Play, Stitcher, and TuneIn, or stream or download directly on the Edge Effects website.


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Upcoming Events

Skilling Up for the Anthropocene with Stephanie LeMenager
Friday, March 2, 4:00 PM, Helen C. White, 7191
LeMenager's public talk takes its pragmatic inspiration from the Transition Movement that imagines alternatives to petro-subjectivity, to consider how the idea of transition (from fossil fuel energy to renewables, from humanism to posthumanism) has worked its way into literary studies and humanities practice more broadly. The talk will use a few key texts, including Octavia Butler's now iconic Parable series, to discuss the "re-skilling" movement beyond the academy and within it, with an emphasis on how pragmatic responses to the Anthropocene intermix with are commitment to intellectual life, to research, and to the long narrative forms often imagined as a relic of Holocene print culture.

Stephanie LeMenager is Barbara and Carlisle Moore Professor of English and Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Oregon. Her publications include the books Living Oil: Petroleum Culture in the American Century (2014), Manifest and Other Destinies (2005), and Environmental Criticism for the Twenty-First Century (2011). Her co-edited collection Teaching Climate Change in the Humanities addresses climate change pedagogy and her forthcoming Bloomsbury four-volume collection, Literature and Environment, offers a history of the interdisciplinary field of the environmental humanities through the one hundred most influential published articles in the field. LeMenager is a founding editor and current advisory board member of Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities, the first Environmental Humanities journal to be based in the United States. She is a recent recipient of the Radcliffe Institute Fellowship for Advanced Study, where she began writing her latest book, about climate change, fiction, and lies. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Time magazine, Climate Wire, and on CBC radio and NPR.

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