Society for Contemporary Literature @ ALA 2018 | May 24-27, 2018 | San Francisco
This panel aims to explore the various literary spaces—both urban and organic—that define American literature after deindustrialization. How does the postindustrial economy remake the ways that people work in, live in, rely on, and relate to their built and natural environments? And how, in turn, do those new environmental dynamics reshape contemporary novels and poems?
We seek to ask a broad range of questions: What is the effect of financialization on urban space? How does the rise of environmental derivatives or “nature credits” (where major polluters can purchase credit to pollute more) since the 1990s alter our relationships with and representations of nature? How does the perception of American borders and Commonwealth Territories change in response to the decline of U.S. economic hegemony? How does the rise in the euphemistically named “sharing economies” of companies such as Uber, Lyft, Instacart, and Airbnb affect who navigates the city, how they do so, and for what reasons? What role does the natural world play in renderings of a postindustrial world rather than an industrial one?
A key aspiration of this panel is to bring together scholars working in a variety of contemporary literary genres, from ecological science fiction to urban realism to the poetics of the Capitolocene. What brings these disparate genres into productive conversation today, our panel proposes, is their shared attention to how a postindustrial social order remakes lived and living spaces. Moving from realist depictions of American city life to speculative renderings of the ecological future, this panel hopes to broaden current critical conversations about how the conditions and consequences of deindustrialization have altered contemporary literary form.