CFP: American Fiction Reflecting Global Ecological Concerns (NeMLA Apr 7-10, 2011)

full name / name of organization: 
Linda Byrd Cook / Sam Houston State University
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Oftentimes an actual historical tragedy makes its strongest impact when it is delivered to the public in the form of fiction. In the hands of a skilled artist, the story can not only capture the enormity of the event, but also expose and express the human perspective. Many contemporary American writers utilize landscape and heritage to speak to today's important global ecological issues. One poignant example is writing set in the Appalachian South. Present Appalachia may best be understood if approached through the lens of postcolonial theory since the mountain people are as disenfranchised as those in colonized nations. America's insistence on cheap energy, with strip mining and mountaintop removal, has had devastating effects on the Appalachian area. The majority of modern-day writers whose chosen literary terrain is the fictional world of Appalachia would not call themselves activists or environmentalists. However, in their efforts to "save" Appalachia, these writers create literature that may serve as a microcosm for the contemporary world in its attempts to save the planet from the damage and destruction done over the past few hundred years. The price we are paying and will continue to pay for our carelessness, negligence, and insistence on convenience parallels the tragedy depicted in much Appalachian fiction where property is blasted away and wastes are dumped into nearby valleys. The entire ecosystem of the region is altered as streams are buried and wells and waterways are polluted.

This panel seeks papers that explore the salient connection between contemporary American fiction and the earth's current environmental crisis. Submissions are invited that interrogate the immediacy of a fictional world that serves as a microcosm for our 21st century world with its global ecological concerns. Send 300-word abstracts via e-mail to:

Dr. Linda Byrd Cook
English Department
Sam Houston State University

Deadline: September 30, 2010

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