Virtual Wildernesses: Ecocritical Explorations of Wildness in Digital Spaces (Edited Collection, 8/16/13)

full name / name of organization: 
Ben S. Bunting, Jr. / Washington State University
contact email: 

Virtual Wildernesses: Ecocritical Explorations of Wildness in Digital Spaces

Over the last two decades, our lives have become an increasingly complex symbiosis of our experiences in the physical world and our interactions with digital spaces. Yet, there has been little ecocritical consideration of how digital spaces fit into the ecosystem that supports our increasingly hybridized reality. Thus, the intent of this collection is to (re)consider digital spaces as a new form of wilderness and our interactions with them as a new kind of exploration.

In his essay "The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature," ecocritic William Cronon makes a distinction between our traditional understanding of wilderness as a geographically-defined place imbued with the qualities of "the natural" and wildness, an experiential quality often associated with wilderness that nonetheless "can be found anywhere: in the seemingly tame fields and woodlots of Massachusetts, in the cracks of a Manhattan sidewalk, even in the cells of our own bodies." Cronon's argument suggests the possibility of a more inclusive understanding of wilderness, one that challenges an oft-assumed but reductive civilization/wilderness dichotomy by considering a broad range of experientially wild spaces located outside of "nature" as it is traditionally understood, spaces within which alternative wildernesses can be mapped by a new breed of explorers.

Submissions for this collection, then, should theorize, describe, or otherwise interpret particular digital spaces as manifestations of "virtual wilderness." Video games, social networks, websites, and mobile device interfaces are a few examples of what might constitute a "digital space," but papers that consider other such spaces are also acceptable. Responses to this CFP might include but are in no way limited to:

  • Theoretical discussions of the idea of "virtual wilderness."
  • Ecocritical "close readings" of particular digital spaces (games, social networks, ARGs, etc.).
  • Nonfiction narratives dealing with author's (or others') explorations of a particular virtual wilderness or wildernesses.
  • Investigations of how virtual wildernesses are constructed from a developer's perspective.
  • Discussions of how users "explore" virtual wildernesses through their use of digital spaces (through user-created online communities and forums, cooperative online play, modding, etc.).

Please submit a CV, an abstract of no more than 500 words, and contact information to Ben Bunting at by Friday, August 16th. Feel free to contact the editor with any questions you might have about the CFP.

Please contact the editor:

Ben Bunting
Washington State University