In Defense of Tackiness: The Queer Environmental Politics of Glitter – 2024 Faculty Book Celebration

In Defense of Tackiness: The Queer Environmental Politics of Glitter – 2024 Faculty Book Celebration

Featuring keynote speaker Nicole Seymour, professor of English, California State University, Fullerton, and author, “Glitter,” an environmental-cultural history of a substance often dismissed as frivolous

The publication of a monograph or significant creative work is a milestone in the career of an academic. The Center for the Humanities commemorates this achievement annually during the Faculty Book Celebration. The event recognizes Washington University faculty from the humanities and humanistic social sciences by displaying their recently published works and large-scale creative projects and inviting two campus authors and a guest lecturer to speak at a public gathering. 

There’s so much to celebrate, and so many ways to join in! 
Virtual Book Display
How I Made This Book

Wednesday, February 28

1 pm  |  Panel discussion, “Culture and Environmental Crisis” | Olin Library, Room 142

4 pm  |  Keynote lecture and Washington University faculty speakers (right) | Umrath Lounge

Keynote lecture

“In Defense of Tackiness: The Queer Environmental Politics of Glitter”

4 pm | Umrath Lounge

In this talk, Nicole Seymour will offer an environmental-cultural history of glitter, contextualizing and challenging the recent backlash against this substance, including the sweeping ban implemented by the European Union in 2023. Focusing on the tackiness of glitter — its physical stickiness as well as its metaphorical association with the vulgar — Seymour will chart how glitter has served as a rallying symbol for the marginalized: the working class, people of color and queer communities.


Nicole Seymour works at the intersection of environmental issues and queer issues, with a particular focus on the role of aesthetics and affects in related activist movements. She is the author of Strange Natures: Futurity, Empathy, and the Queer Ecological Imagination (University of Illinois Press, 2013), which won the 2015 Book Award for Ecocriticism from the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, and Bad Environmentalism: Irony and Irreverence in the Ecological Age (University of Minnesota Press, 2018), which was included in the Chicago Review of Books’ list of the “Best Nature Writing of 2018.” Her latest book, Glitter (Bloomsbury’s Object Lessons series, 2022), offers an environmental-cultural history of a substance often dismissed as frivolous. Seymour recently held fellowships at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich and the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh. She is currently professor of English and graduate advisor for the Environmental Studies Program at California State University, Fullerton.

Washington University faculty speakers

Two members of the Washington University faculty will speak on their own new book releases.

Ila Sheren

Associate Professor, Department of Art History and Archaeology

Border Ecology: Art and Environmental Crisis at the Margins (Springer Link, 2023)

This book analyzes how contemporary visual art can visualize environmental crisis. It draws on Karen Barad’s method of “agential realism,” which understands disparate factors as working together and “entangled.” Through an analysis of digital eco art, the book shows how the entwining of new materialist and decolonized approaches accounts for the nonhuman factors shaping ecological crises while understanding that a purely object-driven approach misses the histories of human inequality and subjugation encoded in the environment. The resulting synthesis is what the author terms a border ecology, an approach to eco art from its margins, gaps, and liminal zones, deliberately evoking the idea of an ecotone. This book is suitable for scholarly audiences within art history, criticism and practice, but also across disciplines such as the environmental humanities, media studies, border studies and literary eco-criticism.

Hayrettin Yücesoy 

Associate Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Department of Jewish, Islamic, and Middle Eastern Studies

Disenchanting the Caliphate: The Secular Discipline of Power in Abbasid Political Thought (Columbia University Press, 2023)

The political thought of Muslim societies is all too often defined in religious terms, in which the writings of clerics are seen as representative and ideas about governance are treated as an extension of commentary on sacred texts. Disenchanting the Caliphate offers a groundbreaking new account of political discourse in Islamic history by examining Abbasid imperial practice, illuminating the emergence and influence of a vibrant secular tradition.

Closely reading key eighth-century texts, Hayrettin Yücesoy argues that the ulema’s discourse of religious governance and the political thought of lay intellectuals diverged during this foundational period, with enduring consequences. He traces how notions of good governance and reflections on prudent statecraft arose among cosmopolitan literati who envisioned governing as an art. Competent in nonreligious branches of knowledge and trained in administrative professions, these belletrists articulated and defended secular political practices, reimagining the caliphal realm as politically constituted rather than natural. They sought to improve administrative efficiency and bolster state control for an empire made up of diverse cultures. Their ideas about moral cultivation, temporal reasoning, and governmental rationality endured for centuries as a counterpoint to religious rulership. Drawing on this history, Yücesoy critiques the concept of “Islamic political thought,” calling for decolonizing debates about “secular” and “religious” politics.

Panel discussion

“Culture and Environmental Crisis”

1 pm  |  Olin Library, Room 142

Moderated by Patricia Olynyk, the Florence and Frank Bush Professor in Art, Sam Fox School

Patricia Olynyk (the Florence and Frank Bush Professor in Art, Sam Fox School) moderates a conversation on environmental humanities today between Faculty Book Celebration keynote speaker Nicole Seymour and Ursula Heise (the Marcia H. Howard Chair in Literary Studies Department of English and Institute of the Environment & Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles). All are welcome.

Please join us online for the panel discussion! In-person registrations are closed due to space constraints.