Marking the Land in North America

full name / name of organization: 
Wendy HARDING, Université de Toulouse, France
contact email: 

Marking the Land in North America

Toulouse, France, May 14, 2011

Organized by the North American Studies Group,
University of Toulouse le Mirail,

Scientific committee: Nathalie Dessens, Université de Toulouse, Wendy Harding, Université de Toulouse, Scott Slovic, University of Nevada, Reno

This conference will explore the various traces left by human beings in their interactions with the environment in North America. Our daily existence has a social, historical and ecological impact that leaves visible or invisible marks in space, while the land imposes its mark on the communities that it welcomes. The mark is thus double-faced and interactive. Recent environmental disasters show how devastating these traces can become but also in what ways they can alter the awareness that the general public has of eco-crises. Whether we degrade or protect the land, our existence alters it and marks it. We welcome papers investigating how the American landscape has been shaped and fashioned, deliberately or accidentally, by the various populations inhabiting it. At the same time, we are interested in the ways in which art constitutes a different kind of trace of human activity on the land. The visual arts, especially the "land arts," contribute to our ongoing interaction with our surroundings. In American literature, in a variety of styles—polemical, lyrical, elegiac, humorous—writers have responded to their environments and left their own distinctive traces.

The conference will feature twenty minute papers in English
Send brief abstracts by September 15, 2010 to:
Nathalie Dessens (, Wendy Harding (, Scott H. Slovic (