Lowell Duckert, assistant professor in the department of English at West Virginia University, attempts to reconceive the relationships between humans and nonhumans in our own time through eco-theorizations of pre-modern wet worlds in his work. These reconceived relationships are featured in his newest book, “For All Waters: Finding Ourselves in Early Modern Wetscapes,” a collection of essays and parts of his dissertation that was published in March. In the book, Duckert tells the story of bodies of water and his concerns for their protection.
Duckert first realized he could marry his outdoor passions with love of writing through time spent working on his doctoral dissertation. After originally focusing on Renaissance metals, Duckert tapped into his childhood and realized that Seattle, WA, his rainy hometown, opened his eyes to the beauty of unity of water and the lack of separation of sea and sky.
“My works says theorizing the non-division between writing and water,” Duckert said. “We are bodies of water. We’re always wet. My writings and works are reflections of that but are also influenced in all the different ways influence can mean.”
Duckert became so heavily influenced by water because he listened to what it had to say, and he believes there are infinite ways to approach looking at this ultimate source of life.
“My work details how bodies and texts are created from conversations with water,” he said. “I would want that same labor to the disciplines – conversations with water, about water, creating different approaches and different disciplines.”
Through creating these conversations between the arts and sciences, Duckert hopes to collaboratively tell the story of water, whether it’s through writings like his book or data and studies – or both.
“We don’t have to choose one or the other - science or the arts - because they’re already enmeshed,” he said. “‘How do we give water voice?’ It’s always been there; we just have to better recognize it. It’s where art comes in and the potential working with the IWSS comes in for me because it calls attention to that.”
He wants to muddle around with working with scientists. He doesn't quite know what it will look like, but one potential idea is team teaching.
“Student’s wouldn’t just study mountain hydrology, but they’d narrate mountain hydrology. What kind of skills would that give students both in English and hydrology?”
Duckert is a huge proponent for this mixed disciplinary approach and wants to truly embody what the IWSS stands for: collaboration.
“If water is a coming force through and through, so are the environmental humanities, and I really wanted to dispel the myths that environmental humanities need to be more scientific to speak to the sciences,” he said. “I want this to demonstrate and encourage the future of possibilities between humanities and sciences.”