Urban Places: The Literary Ecology of American Cities (Abstracts by 9/30)

full name / name of organization: 
Karen E. Waldron / Northeast Modern Language Association Conf. April 7-11, 2010
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This proposed panel follows on a very successful seminar discussion conducted at NeMLA 2009 entitled: "The Literary Ecology of American Literature: Constructions of Place." It proposes to continue wrestling with the significant questions of methodology in studying literature of and about the environment through a particular focus on the literature of cities. This work is critical to studies of literature and environment, an area which has not been theorized adequately. The need to draw effectively on other disciplinary knowledges and how they manifest in linguistic form is central to this effort and the ultimate goal of the project is an edited collection of essays on the literary construction of place within the American context. Such work will not only advance the conversation about literature of the environment, but also help scholars revisit canonical texts with a more multi-dimensional analytic perspective. None of the papers submitted (over 20) for the 2009 seminar treated cities as subjects of literary ecology, and this panel seeks to address this omission and consider cities as not only frequent literary subjects but apt vehicles for discussing the many facets of environment that must be analyzed in literary ecology. Cities constellate and require representation of economic, human, and cultural conditions; cities provide a concentrated and challenging means of reveal the complexity of the human relationship to environment(s) as represented in and through literature. In examining the construction of cities as places, this panel will advance the understanding of what scholars mean by "environmental" literature.