Pasolini’s Petrolio: Fossil Fuel, Chaotic Desire, Anthropocene Narratives

This talk will attempt a hyper-extended reading of Pasolini’s Petrolio as a work–alchemical, novelistic, organicist–that explores the profound ties between fossil fuels and narrative. Written, obviously, before a widespread consciousness of climate change, Petrolio seems impressively to anticipate, and somehow to correspond intriguingly with, the chaotic temporality of the Anthropocene. (Pinkus)

Karen Pinkus is Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at Cornell University. She is also a minor graduate field member in Studio Art, a faculty fellow of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and a member of the Climate Change Focus Group. Professor Pinkus has published widely in Italian culture, literary theory, cinema, visual theory, and environmental theory. She is working on a book, tentatively titled Autonomia/Automata: Machines for Writing, Laboring and Thinking in 1960s Italy, that explores issues around labor, automation and repetition in Italian art, literature, design and film of the ’60s. This book engages in significant part with currents in contemporary Italian thought, especially involving the Autonomia movement, the refusal to work, and the question of wages. She is also working on a book titled Fuel, which considers issues crucial to climate change, arguing for a separation of fuel (understood in Aristotelian terms as potentiality, or dynamis) from energy as a system of power (grasped as actuality, use).

Co-presented by Italian Studies, The Program in Critical Theory, the Departments of Film and Media, English, French, and German, and the Graduate Film Working Group.