Speculation as method in the environmental humanities: a small-scale informal workshop

A workshop for postgraduate students to enhance their writing through a speculative lens.

This practical workshop explores the place of speculation, and speculative writing, in environmental humanities research. Working in dialogue with five established scholars, students will engage their own and others’ work in progress through a speculative lens—to develop a sense of the richness and analytical potential of speculation, as well as its dangers and pitfalls, as these may apply to their own research.

This workshop is aimed at postgraduates and is open to all students with an interest in the environmental humanities. This workshop will be held at the University of Sydney only.

This workshop was held at the University of Sydney on Friday 24 November 2023.


Bring something from your own research that you are comfortable sharing and that you would like to begin working with in a speculative mode. It may be something you find challenging, puzzling or interesting, that confuses you or that you’re unsure how to approach, or just something very cool that you would like to share and develop. The “something” could be an observation, an incident, an interview, a material object, anything else that you think would serve as a relevant point of departure. Come prepared to explain to an unfamiliar listener what it is you are bringing to the workshop and why—as well as where it fits within the larger framework of your research project, whatever stage you are at.

We’ll share a folder with readings before the workshop. Come prepared to discuss these texts from the perspective of your own research.


Hugo Reinert is Associate Professor in the Cultural History of Nature at the University of Oslo, where he is involved in a range of initiatives connected to critical time studies, museology and heritage, the environmental humanities and developing experimental teaching methods for the Anthropocene.

Anna-Katharina Laboissiere is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Oslo, where she investigates the resurgence and contemporary uses of fallowing and fallowed land in agricultural policy and scientific research as sites of new bio-and cosmopolitical articulations.

Rachel Douglas-Jones is an Associate Professor of anthropological approaches to data and infrastructure at the IT University of Copenhagen, where she is head of the Technologies in Practice research group. She is the Principal Investigator of Moving Data-Moving People a six-year project exploring social credit and state digitalization in China, the CI of Bionic Natures, an Oslo based collaboratory at the intersection of digital and environmental concerns, and CI of Reimagining Monsters, an Oxford TORCH project on figuring and governing AI through a critical bestiary of AI. 

Matthew Chrulew is a writer and researcher from Boorloo/Perth. His fiction has appeared in Westerly, Cosmos and Plutonics and his essays in Island, New Literary History and Biosemiotics. In 2022, he edited the volume Kin: Thinking With Deborah Bird Rose (Duke) with Thom van Dooren, and the speculative fiction anthology Phase Change: Imagining Energy Futures (Twelfth Planet). He edits the book series Animalities at Edinburgh University Press, and leads the Posthumanities, Animalities, Environments research stream in the Centre for Culture and Technology at Curtin University.

Thom van Dooren is Associate Professor in the School of Humanities (Gender and Cultural Studies) and Deputy Director at the Sydney Environment Institute at the University of Sydney. His research is based in the broad interdisciplinary field of the environmental humanities, with particular grounding in environmental philosophy, cultural studies, and science and technology studies. His research and writing focus on some of the many philosophical, ethical, cultural, and political issues that arise in the context of species extinctions and human entanglements with threatened species and places.


Header image: By Bondar Illia, via Shutterstock ID: 2139978109.

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