Scott Pincikowski
(Hood College, Frederick, MD)

“Disappearing Landscapes/Disappearing Cultures:
What happens to Language and Culture when Keystone Landscapes Disappear?”

May 22, 2024, 16:15-17:45, P110 (Philosophicum)


This class will explore the relationship between environmental and cultural crises. What happens to culture when a keystone landscape, a landscape that is fundamental to a people’s existence and cultural identity, is damaged or even destroyed due to climate change? How does the culture respond to this crisis? How should it respond? How well can it respond? To answer these questions, we will look at the impact of disappearing glaciers in Iceland on Icelandic culture in the autobiographical text “N64 35.378, W16 44.691” by the Icelandic author Andri Snær Magnason. We will also look at melting permafrost in Russia and sea level rise in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay region to assess adaptation strategies in different cultures. In doing so, we will see that there is no “one size fits all” answer to these difficult questions, and that the responses are often dependent upon the very cultural attitudes that were shaped by these keystone landscapes.


Dr. Pincikowski is environmental humanist, professor of German, chair of the Department of Global Languages and Cultures, and student of Environmental Biology at Hood College. His research focus has been on medieval German culture and literature, and now explores how different cultures perceive nature and the environment. He is the author of Bodies of Pain: Suffering in the Works of Hartmann von Aue and co-editor of End-Times in Medieval German Literature: Sin, Evil, and the Apocalypse. He is currently working on a chapter on tree nationalism in German culture for his book project on memory and the German Middle Ages. He was Fulbright Visiting Professor in the Humanities and Social Sciences in at the University of Innsbruck, Austria in 2014 and Visiting Professor of German at the University of Pennsylvania in 2012.


You can download the poster for the event here.


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