Climate, Culture, and Capital: Conversations and Conflicts

deadline for submissions: 
February 5, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
UMass Amherst English Graduate Organization

Climate, Culture, and Capital: Conversations and Conflicts

April 18, 2020

University of Massachusetts Amherst 

English Graduate Organization Conference

Can the climate crisis be represented? To what ends do art and critique engage with extinction? How can the humanities engage with environmental concerns ensuring the continued visibility of structural inequalities and disparities of power? What is nature? What is the human? 

In The Great Derangement Amitav Ghosh points to the lack of "serious fiction" when it comes to the question of climate change. He argues that literary works around climate change have often been relegated to the genres of speculative and science fiction. The object of this so-called serious fiction after all, has been the human and the human condition. Ghosh’s arguments raise important questions about how “canonical” literature and its anthropocentric aims are tested by the contemporary moment of climate collapse. From the Amazon fire, to human rights abuses in Myanmar, the climate crisis is rapidly making "crisis" a central aspect of the normative grammar of the everyday. By threatening the very foundations of political and cultural discourses that informed the idea of the human, the climate crisis forces us to re-evaluate the tropes that constructed the human. It challenges our enduring binaries between man and nature, nature and culture, man and beast. It also calls into question the politics of “modernity”, and forces us to reconsider the “development” and “progress” that capitalism ushered. Is the ecological apocalypse the only possible end of capitalism? 

In this conference we aim to bring together graduate student work that engages with the disciplinary, critical and discursive challenges posed by the current ecological crisis and helps rethink the ways in which the arts and humanities can play a more powerful role in conversations on ecological and climate crises. We invite panels, academic papers, and creative pieces. Potential paper topics could include:

  • The Human and the Posthuman
  • Death, Extinction and Apocalypse
  • Animals, Non-humans, and Monsters
  • The Artist, the Critic and the Climate Crisis
  • Limits of Imagination: Representing the Climate Crisis
  • Capitalism, Imperialism, and Nature
  • Crisis in the Classroom: Pedagogies of Climate Change
  • Refugees and Narratives of Migration
  • Interrogating Ability and Disability
  • The Anthropocene and the Capitalocene
  • Rights, Justice, and Equity

 Abstracts (300-350 words) should be submitted to englishconference@umass.edu by February 5, 2020.