Weeds and Viruses: Ecopoetics after Postmodernism - Edited Book Collection

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English Institute, Freie Universität Berlin

The beginning of the new millennium is often seen as the end of postmodernism. The recent emergence of Critical Realism and New Empiricim suggests a move towards forms of epistemological and moral pragmatisms that contain the disruption and destabilisation of identities within gestures of hyper-emotionality. Yet as far back as the early nineteenth century, Romantic writers had already begun to revision the Judeo-Christian belief in the dominance of man over the world around him or her. Writers such as John Clare, Dorothy Wordsworth and P.B. Shelley can be seen to destabilise the anthropocentric bias inherent to the belief in a transcendent, divinely-sanctioned human spirit. In the twentieth century, the Romantic ideal of a symbiotic relationship with nature and the natural as pure and outside culture has been complicated by the postructural emphasis on the linguistic and discursive constructions of the world around us.

The millenium bug which threatened to destroy digital archives and the cybernetic substructure of modern-day communication technologies was awaited in some quarters as the event that would call into question the textually constructed uncertainties of poststructuralist theory and postmodern culture. Indeed it is possible to see in the desire for amnesia often associated with postmodernism a negation of all that destablises and deconstructs via worship at the sacred altar of the 'always already'. The emergence in the mid-1990s of ecocritical theory has been largely attributed to the crisis of epistemological reality brought about by poststructuralist theory and postmodern culture. In its twenty-first century formulations ecocriticism aims to negotiate the paradoxes of contemporary life, where a postmodern culture of simulation and virtual reality must confront a world suffering from environmental crises in which native habitats are destroyed daily, certain species are becoming extinct at an alarming rate, and the industrialisation and mechanisation of the breeding and slaughtering of non-human animals for human consumption is unprecendented.

This edited collection of essays will examine the various attempts by contemporary writers, film-makers, and media artists to reimagine and renegotiate the fraught relation between human experience and the world around us after the emergence of ecocritical practice and theory in the 1990s. How do we imagine nature and the natural after postmodernism? How do culture and context mediate our relationship to the non-human world around us? How do terms such as ecoethics and bioethics come into play in the mediation of this relationship? How do writers after postmodernism revision, recontextualise or reimagine the idealisation of nature often associated with the Romantic pastoral, and the idyllic?
Like the viruses and weeds unhinging colonial power relations, this collection is interested in exploring the uncertainties of postmodernist textualities and the demands of political realities as a means of recovering the stage of the oikos, the dwelling or habitat indicating the nexus of the human, of nature and of spirit.

We welcome proposals for a peer-reviewed, edited colleciton of essays that examines ecocritical practice and theory after postmodernism. The collection will be published with WVT (Trier). Essays should be a maximum of 6000 words, with MLA citation formatting and OED spelling (using –ise/-yse word endings).

Deadline for submissions: 05 October 2012
Final essays due: 24 February 2013

Please send abstracts or enquiries to Lenka Filipova, Freie Universität Berlin: lenka.filipova@fu-berlin.de

Topics may include, but are not necessarily limited to the following:

➢ ecopoetics, ecoethics and ecolit
➢ the postmodern and post-natural
➢ postcolonial ecologies
➢ new humanisms or posthumanisms
➢ critical realism and the unknown
➢ the human-animal relation
➢ eco-cosmopolitanism
➢ wilderness romance and representing the frontier
➢ non-Western conceptions of the nonhuman world (eg., Hindu, Buddhist, Native American and other indigenous cultures)
➢ custodianship