5 February 2021: Podcast I Zakiya McKenzie & Victoria Whitworth
12 February 2021: Zakiya McKenzie & Victoria Whitworth (chaired by Hjördis Becker-Lindenthal)
How do we write the world and how does language change the shape of our stories? This panel engages the literary as literal spell work and examines contemporary nature writing as rites of passage and techniques for altering the power narratives that stories impart. Zakiya McKenzie and Victoria Whitworth are nature writers whose work challenges conventional ideas of how nature can – and should – be “written”. This panel explores how words are used in order to alter our perception of the objects they name. Can words re-enchant our relationship to the nonhuman? What are the ethics of “environmental” writing?
Zakiya Mckenzie is a Bristol-based writer and researcher. She was the 2019 writer-in-residence for Forestry England and 2017 Bristol Black and Green Ambassador. In 2017, she completed a Master of Research degree in Sustainable Futures at the University of Bristol focusing on the environmental and economic implications of "black gold" - petroleum - off Guyana’s shore. She is currently writing for a PhD at the University of Exeter researching Black British journalism in the post-war period. Zakiya is also a volunteer at Ujima 98FM community radio station in Bristol and she regularly leads naturebased art and writing workshops, including one on Caribbean storytelling for children. Zakiya has appeared on Radio 4's Woman's Hour, Farming Today, Inside Out West and has written for Smallwoods and BBC Wildlife Magazines. Follow Zakiya’s work at https://zakiyamckenzie.com.
Victoria is a novelist and academic who explores the culture and society of Britain in the Early Middle Ages, focusing on death, burial and memory. From 2012 to 2016 she was lecturer at the Centre for Nordic Studies on the Orkney campus of the University of the Highlands and Islands. She is the author of Dying and Death in Later Anglo-Saxon England (as Victoria Thompson); the novels The Bone Thief and The Traitors’ Pit (as VM Whitworth) and Daughter of the Wolf, all set in England’s Dark Ages. Her latest book, Swimming with Seals, is both an acclaimed memoir of life, death and swimming, and a treasure trove of the history, myth and archaeology of Orkney. Victoria lives with her daughter in Edinburgh.
Chair: Hjördis Becker-Lindenthal is Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge.