CFP: [Gender Studies] Queer Ecocriticism and Theory

full name / name of organization: 
Robert Azzarello
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Queer Ecocriticism and Theory

NeMLA Convention
26 February â€" 1 March 2009
Boston, MA

Queer studies as a field of academic inquiry began, arguably, when critics
started to identify sexuality as a key nexus of cultural and social power
and, therefore, as a crucial object of analysis in its own right. Although
the exact moment of this prioritization is difficult to ascertain, Gayle S.
Rubin’s famous essay, “Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the
Politics of Sexuality,” first published in 1984, certainly does point to
this decision to “think about sex” (3) and to develop “an autonomous theory
and politics specific to sexuality” (34). Although this kind of analytical
separation was necessary in the early days of the field, most critics and
theorists assumed that to study sexuality in itself was impossible. Sexual
subjects are produced not only in the discourses of sexuality, but also,
and perhaps even more so, in other discoursesâ€"the discourses, that is, of
anatomical sex, gender, race, nation, class, ability, and age, to name just
a few. The recent work of Gayatri Gopinath, Robert F. Reid-Pharr, Marlon
Bryan Ross, Robert McRuer, and Siobhan B. Somerville immediately come to
mind as important and innovative examples of this problematization of
sexuality-in-itself and this radical reunification of “the sexual” with
other forms of discourse. Being truly interdisciplinary, each of these
critics takes seriously the ostensibly paradoxical axiom that sexuality is
socially constructed outside of the field of sexuality and helps to
rearticulate the notion that sexuality is indeed everywhere. In this
particular academic climate, then, why has queer theory been so
disconnected from environmental studies? The disengagement between queer
theory and, say, critical race studies or globalization studies would be
inconceivable in contemporary criticism, so why does that extrication work
so well with environmental studies? To put the question in an
appropriately different manner, why do queer theory and environmental
studies figure as so naturally disconnected?

This panel will bring together scholars seeking to explore the productive
conjunction between queer theory and ecocriticism. It will situate itself
within existing scholarship in ecofeminism and queer critiques of science,
but it will push beyond these limits by exploring the profound queerness at
the heart of the human and other-than-human world. It will, at once, take
seriously queer theorists historical frustration with the naturalization of
nature, especially in terms of the violent repercussions of naturalizing a
heteronormative nature, but it will also take seriously ecocritics’ call to
figure the other-than-human world into our ethico-political theory and praxis.

Possible topics include:

• Queer ecocriticism and evolutionary theory
• Queer reassessments of environmental literary history
• The sex life of plants
• The questionable ontology of sexual difference
• Darwin as a queer thinker
• The queer phenomenology of ecological touching
• Biopolitics, or the political organization of life and death
• The problematization of species as a queer phenomenon
• The Open as queer space
• Spinoza’s conatus and Nietzsche’s will as queer force
• Reproduction and its discontents

Please send 250-word abstracts to Robert Azzarello at by 15 September 2008.

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Received on Tue Jun 17 2008 - 12:04:39 EDT