Theory Sessions


PhD candidate Jacob Vangeest presents:

'Spectres of Humanism: Hauntological Resonance in Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing'

Friday, April 5th @ 3:30p.m.Jacob-Vangeest---2024-Theory-Session-Promo-Poster.png

Bio: Jacob Vangeest is a Doctoral Candidate at the Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism at Western University specializing in 20th century French philosophy, cultural studies, and political thought. His doctoral research focuses on the political ramifications of the ontological commitment to processes of entanglement and individuation as positioned in discourse of critical posthumanism and the philosophies of becoming. Jacob has authored and co-authored several academic articles, including “Human, all too human? Anthropocene narratives, posthumanisms, and the problem of ‘post-anthropocentrism,’” in The Anthropocene Review, and “Forest Semiosis: Plant Noesis as Negantropic Potential” in Footprint: Delft Architecture Theory Journal. He is currently working on a project thinking through the theoretical and ecological implications of Alan Moore’s Saga of the Swamp Thing. Jacob currently resides in Portland, Oregon with his wife Margot and son Johan. When he isn’t wildly speculating on the limits of {post}humanity, he enjoys hiking, coffee shops, book stores, and movies. 

Abstract: Alan Moore’s Saga of the Swamp Thing invokes questions regarding the ecological encounter of the human and non-human. Typically, scholarship has read this encounter through a logic of connection or entanglement: the Swamp Thing is constituted through the entanglement of Alec Holland’s humanity with plant material. However, Moore’s reconceptualization of the character in “The Anatomy Lesson” makes clear that the human, Alec Holland, is dead: the Swamp Thing has only ever been a plant which believed itself to be Alec Holland. Taking this reconceptualization seriously, this presentation offers an alternative to the ‘entanglement thesis’ in what I term ‘hauntological resonance.’ The Swamp Thing is not the mixture or mediation of human and plant materials but instead should be understood as plant material that is haunted by the spectre of Alec Holland’s humanity. Reading the comic with the theoretical tools of Walter Benjamin, Gilbert Simondon, and Jacques Derrida, this presentation suggests further theoretical ramifications of such hauntological resonance for both the critical post-humanities and theorizations of the Anthropocene. for info. 


Theory Sessions are a student-run tradition at the Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism. It promotes interdisciplinary research across the campus, providing students and faculty with the opportunity to present their work and engage in lively discussions. We welcome all topics and enjoy presenting an eclectic range of scholarship. We have held sessions from scholars in a wide range of disciplines such as computer science, medical science, philosophy, English literature, women’s studies, sociology, political science, visual arts, art history, psychology, history, and more. 


The presentations are 20 minutes long. Following the presentation, at least one designated respondent will initiate a discussion with the presenter. Anyone attending the session is welcome to join this discussion period. These will typically last 20-30 minutes.   

Theory Sessions facilitates an academically rigorous environment to present cohesive and cogent thoughts on subjects that our speakers are genuinely passionate about. Our sessions aim to bring forward meaningful and productive discussions, and provide a rich opportunity to develop papers for publication, prepare for conferences, and develop performance art or presentation skills. We encourage you to have fun and experiment in our community of curious and caring thinkers.  

Who can do Theory Sessions?

Students and faculty in the Theory Centre are given priority for sessions, however, we encourage scholars from other departments to send us your work. We will make every effort to accommodate as many sessions as possible.  

If you are interested in presenting, please send an email with an abstract of approximately 200 words, and a brief 100 word bio to Your abstract and bio will be used to announce your session to the university community.