ASLE-Sponsored session at M/MLA: Postmodern Farmer-Citizen. Submissions due 4/20/13, Conference November 7-10, 2013
Association for the Study of LIterature and Environment, Allied Organization of the Midwest MLA. 350 word proposals due to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 20, 2013.
Iowa poet laureate Mary Swander's play Farmscape: The Changing Rural Environment, co-written with graduate students at Iowa State University, addresses the tensions inherent in changing demographics and market place structures in the world of farming. Echoing the spirit of the Chautauqua adult education movement of the early 20th century which encouraged adult education programming to enliven rural communities and foster engaged citizenship and cultural discourse, an integral part of the play is discussion: audience members are encouraged to make their voice part of an exchange of ideas at the end of the play. Farmers' markets are embracing a similar philosophy: while the economic impetus is certainly at work, farmers also see their roles as agents of social education, holding workshops on 'Buying Local' and discussions about the demise of bees. University extension projects support this idea of the citizen/farmer, addressing not only grafting techniques but also the consequences of the kinds of citizenship supported by our nation's farming practices.
Discussions about farming, then, are dependent to some extent on discussions of community and community education. This panel seeks to create a dialog that explores the different concepts of community and education inherent in conversations about the Midwest farming world in a postmodern and potentially posthuman era. Papers might address the concept of biospheres and their integration with philosophies of citizenship as they appear in science fiction; the rhetoric of environmental perspectives on changing farm practices; the voices of migrant workers in contemporary fiction; the depiction of community in rural art; or the role of the farmer's market in building community and promoting education.