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Green Traces: Vegetal Imagination in Italian Science Fiction, from Gilda Musa to Solarpunk

September 22, 2022 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Green Traces: Vegetal Imagination in Italian Science Fiction, from Gilda Musa to Solarpunk 
Enrico Cesaretti, University of Virginia

Discussant: Marco Malvestio, Università di Padova / University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

September 22nd, 2022, 3-5pm

Toy Lounge, Dey Hall/ Zoom: 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Flowers, trees, seeds, agricultural crops, botanical life and, more generally, the vegetal dimension have frequently been tropes and a source of artistic inspiration for Anglo-American science fiction literature and cinema. As eminently ‘green’ SF stories imaginatively address the depth and variety of ‘plant-people entanglements’ (van der Veen 2014), they invite an ecocritical perspective that reflects on the attitudes, concerns, fears and socio-political implications emerging from our material relationship with the real world, nature and ‘radical otherness’ in a period that Donna Haraway calls the Plantationocene. This lecture addresses a selection of relevant texts from a perspective that draws both from recent work in ecocriticism and critical plant studies dealing with plant power, intelligence, and communication (Kohn 2013, Marder 2016, Sandilands 2016, Gagliano 2017, Ryan 2018), as well as a theoretical framework informed by notions such as ‘agri-logistics’ (Morton 2014), ‘vegetal violence’ (Wald 2016), and ‘the dark green’ (Sullivan 2019). The texts discussed are: Gilda Musa’s Giungla domestica (1975), in which a plant of Dracena deremensis helps solve a murder case; Lino Aldani’s Quando le radici (1977), in which the quest for origins is conceptualized through a botanical reference and unfolds in a northern Italian landscape where most of the people live in megalopolis; and, finally, some very recent examples of Italian Solarpunk speculative short fiction – Giulia Abbate’s ‘Il libro di Flora’, Serena Barbacetto’s ‘La semina’, Franci Conforti’s ‘Pilastri di luce’ – that share an explicit environmental agenda, an interest in forms of plant-inspired gestures of radical resistance (‘move quietly and plant things’) and in imagining regenerative non-dystopian post-capitalist ‘overgrown’ futures.

Enrico Cesaretti is Associate Professor of Italian at the University of Virginia. His publications include Castelli di carta: retorica della dimora tra Scapigliatura e Surrealismo (Longo, 2001), Fictions of Appetite: Alimentary Discourses in Italian Modernist Literature (Peter Lang, 2013), and Elemental Narratives: Reading Environmental Entanglements in Modern Italy (Penn State University Press, 2020). He co-edited Italy and the Environmental Humanities (University of Virginia Press, 2018).

This event is part of the Fear and Horror Series in the Romance World organized by Marco Malvestio, Sean Matharoo, Chloe M. Hill and Sandra García Gutiérrez. Event sponsored by European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme (Grant agreement no. 890656); the Department of Romance Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and the Department of Linguistic and Literary Studies, Università di Padova




September 22, 2022
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Event Category:


Toy Lounge