American Ecogothic, NeMLA
Leslie Fiedler describes American fiction as “bewilderingly and embarrassingly, a gothic fiction… a literature of darkness and the grotesque in a land of light and affirmation” (Love and Death in the American Novel, 29). However, for settlers within the early colonies and citizens of the young republic, the wilderness of the supposed New World not only represented material promise, but also unknown danger. This panel proposes a move away from the more common “land of light and affirmation” reading of American nature towards an ecogothic approach. Despite recent attention paid to the intersections between gothic and ecocritical studies, there continues to be an unfortunate dearth in scholarship focusing on the specifically American ecogothic. This scarcity is surprising given the important role played by nature in the formation of the American gothic mode. Three major critical works focused on the American ecogothic include Tom J. Hillard’s and Kevin Corstorphine’s essays within Ecogothic (2013) and Ecogothic in Nineteenth-Century American Literature (2017), edited by Dawn Keetley and Matthew Wynn Sivils. In the introduction to their volume, Keetley and Sivils note that, given its unwavering fixation with the wilderness, “American gothic literature has always been ecogothic” (6).
This panel invites papers that interrogate gothic depictions of landscapes and wilderness in American fiction (including, but not limited to, literature, film, television, and video games) from any time period. In particular, we seek papers that work towards a definition of the American ecogothic as a national mode or style. Papers that utilize the ecogothic lens to support, challenge, or problematize current conceptions of the American gothic are especially welcome. We also encourage papers that explore the American ecogothic temporally by tracing transformations or continuations of its fictional appearance across time.
The 50th annual NeMLA conference will take place on March 21-24, 2019 in Washington, DC. For more information: http://www.buffalo.edu/nemla.html
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