Jean-Thomas Tremblay - "Breathing Aesthetics" - Jennifer Scappettone

Tuesday, October 25, 2022 - 5:00pm - 6:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Jean-Thomas Tremblay

Jean-Thomas Tremblay will be reading from their book Breathing Aesthetics. They will be joined in conversation with Jennifer Scappettone.


Presented in partnership with the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at the University of Chicago


About the book: In Breathing Aesthetics Jean-Thomas Tremblay argues that difficult breathing indexes the uneven distribution of risk in a contemporary era marked by the increasing contamination, weaponization, and monetization of air. Tremblay shows how biopolitical and necropolitical forces tied to the continuation of extractive capitalism, imperialism, and structural racism are embodied and experienced through respiration. They identify responses to the crisis in breathing in aesthetic practices ranging from the film work of Cuban American artist Ana Mendieta to the disability diaries of Bob Flanagan, to the Black queer speculative fiction of Renee Gladman. In readings of these and other minoritarian works of experimental film, endurance performance, ecopoetics, and cinema-vérité, Tremblay contends that articulations of survival now depend on the management and dispersal of respiratory hazards. In so doing, they reveal how an aesthetic attention to breathing generates historically, culturally, and environmentally situated tactics and strategies for living under precarity.

About the author: Jean-Thomas Tremblay is Assistant Professor of Environmental Humanities at York University, in Toronto. They are the author of Breathing Aesthetics (Duke University Press, 2022) and, with Andrew Strombeck, a coeditor of Avant-Gardes in Crisis: Art and Politics in the Long 1970s (State University of New York Press, 2021). Jean-Thomas is currently working on two book-length studies: The Art of Environmental Inaction, a manifesto for diminutive environmentalisms, and, with Steven Swarbrick, Negative Life: The Cinema of Extinction, a collaboration on eco-negativity and form. Jean-Thomas's works of scholarly and public writing, spanning environmental, sexuality, literary, and screen studies, are listed at

About the Interlocutor: Jennifer Scappettone, currently an associate professor of English, Creative Writing, and Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Chicago, works at the crossroads of the literary, scholarly, visual and performative arts. She is the author of the cross-genre verse books From Dame Quickly and The Republic of Exit 43: Outtakes & Scores from an Archaeology and Pop-Up Opera of the Corporate Dump, and of the critical study Killing the Moonlight: Modernism in Venice. Her translations of the polyglot poet and refugee from Fascist Italy Amelia Rosselli were collected in the book Locomotrix: Selected Poetry and Prose of Amelia Rosselli, which won the Academy of American Poets's Raiziss/De Palchi Prize; and she founded PennSound Italiana, a sector of the audiovisual archive based at the University of Pennsylvania devoted to experimental Italian poetry. Scappettone has collaborated on site-specific works with a wide spectrum of musicians, architects, artists, and dancers, at locations ranging from the tract of Trajan’s aqueduct beneath the American Academy in Rome to Fresh Kills Landfill.

Event Location: