Michael Warner

Seymour H. Knox Professor of English, Yale University


Environmental Care and the Infrastructure of Indifference

Michael Warner
Michael Warner

Lecture I: On the Grid 
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
4:10 p.m. – 6:15 p.m., Toll Room, Alumni House
with commentary by Anahid Nersessian

Lecture II: Infrastructure as Ethics
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
4:10 p.m. – 6:15 p.m., Toll Room, Alumni House
with commentary by Dale Jamieson and Jedediah Purdy

Seminar and Discussion with the commentators
Thursday, March 22, 2018
4:10 p.m. – 6:15 p.m., Toll Room, Alumni House
with commentary by Anahid Nersessian, Dale Jamieson, and Jedediah Purdy

The lectures and the seminar are free and open to the public.


Download and Listen

MP3 Format: Lecture One, Part 1Lecture One, Part 2Lecture Two, Part 1Lecture Two, Part 2Seminar & Discussion, Part 1Seminar & Discussion, Part 2


About Michael Warner

Michael Warner received his B.A. from Oral Roberts University in 1979, and two M.A. degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1981) and The Johns Hopkins University (1983). In 1986, he received his Ph.D. in English from The Johns Hopkins University. Warner joined the Yale University faculty in 2007 and was named the Seymour H. Knox Professor of English and American Studies in 2008. He served as Chair of the Yale Department of English from 2008 to 2014. Warner has also taught at Northwestern and Rutgers Universities.

A prolific author, Warner has written four books, edited six volumes, and contributed many articles to peer-reviewed academic journals. His first book The Letters of the Republic: Publication and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century America (1990) established him as a leading expert in early American literature and print history. His renowned 1999 work in queer theory The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life argued against adopting the goal of “normalcy,” and more specifically same-sex marriage rights, in gay rights activism. Warner is also recognized for his book Publics and Counterpublics (2002). His latest book, The Evangelical Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century America, is forthcoming.


About the Lectures

Professor Warner’s lectures will address the implications of new developments in energy consumption for the original commitments of twentieth-century environmentalism. Climate change calls for ethical attention to our resources and our waste. Yet modern forms of infrastructure, such as the electrical power grid, seem to lie outside the scope of ordinary concern, and even present obliviousness as a condition of modern freedom. Drawing on research in environmental history and American culture from the colonial period to the emergence of electrical modernity, Professor Warner’s lectures will ask whether the future of sustainability lies in ethics or in engineering.


About the Commentators

Anahid Nersessian

Associate Professor, Department of English
University of California, Los Angeles

Anahid Nersessian is a Romanticist whose writing and research also engage seventeenth and eighteenth-century poetry, contemporary art, and the history of literary criticism. Her first book Utopia, Limited: Romanticism and Adjustment (Harvard University Press, 2015) deals with formal and political practices of renunciation and self-containment, while her current project, The Calamity Form (under contract with the University of Chicago Press) addresses figurative perspectives on ecological crisis. She is the editor of the Broadview Press edition of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Laon and Cythna and–for the Rereadings Series at Columbia University Press–is also writing a short book on Chris Kraus’s novel I Love Dick.

Nersessian is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to her arrival at UCLA in 2014, she served as an Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Nersessian received her B.A. from Yale University in 2005 and her Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago in 2011.

Professor Nersessian is an affiliate of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA, and of LENS, the Laboratory for Environmental Narrative Strategies. She is also managing editor of the open-access journal Environmental Humanities.


Dale Jamieson

Professor of Environmental Studies and Philosophy
New York University

Dale Jamieson is well-known for his contributions to environmental ethics, the ethics and politics of climate change, and a wide range of other issues in normative ethics and political philosophy. At New York University, Jamieson’s courses include environmental studies, philosophy, and law.

Before joining the faculty of New York University in 2004, Jamieson served as Henry R. Luce Professor in Human Dimensions of Global Change at Carleton College, and as Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Values and Social Policy at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He received his B.A. in Philosophy and Religion from San Francisco State University, and both his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1976.

Professor Jamieson’s notable publications include: Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle to Stop Climate Change Failed—and What It Means for Our Future (2014); Ethics and the Environment: An Introduction (2008); Morality’s Progress: Essays on Humans, Other Animals, and the Rest of Nature (2002); and the forthcoming co-authored book, Discerning Experts: The Practices of Scientific Assessment.  In addition, Jamieson serves on several editorial boards of academic journals including Environmental Ethics and the Journal of Applied Philosophy.


Jedediah Purdy

Robinson O. Everett Professor of Law
Duke University

Jedediah Purdy is widely recognized for his writing on the politics of American identity. His research centers on issues where law intersects with social and political thought. As a faculty member at Duke University, Purdy teaches constitutional, environmental, and property law, as well as legal theory.

Purdy has served as Robinson O. Everett Professor of Law at Duke University School of Law since 2013, having joined the faculty in 2004. He clerked for Judge Pierre N. Leval of the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City from 2001-2002.  Purdy has also held visiting appointments at the law schools of Yale, Harvard, Georgetown, and most recently Columbia. A graduate of Harvard College with a B.A. in Social Studies, Purdy received his J.D. from Yale Law School in 2001.

Professor Purdy’s publications include: For Common Things: Irony, Trust, and Commitment in America Today (1999); Being America: Liberty, Commerce, and Violence in an American World (2003); and the Pulitzer Prize nominated After Nature: Environmental Law, Politics, and Ethics in the Anthropocene (2015). He has received fellowships from the New America Foundation, as well as the Safra Center for Ethics and Berkman Center for Internet and Society, both at Harvard University.