(dis)junctions - April 11+12 - The Role of the Literary in Critical Environmental Studies

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Although the broad scope of its arguments are not new, Timothy Morton’s 2007 theoretical work _Ecology without Nature_ helped to inaugurate new interest in what he calls a “properly critical” approach to studies of literature and environment. The impact of Morton’s call to arms cannot be overstated but very soon after _Ecology without Nature_, Morton began with his interest in Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO) to address one of the central problems with his first major book: the difficulty of relating the study and criticism of cultural objects to the study of ostensibly non-cultural objects of the so-called natural world. The turn to OOO is meant to answer the following questions left by _Ecology_: Hasn’t that book simply redefined ecocriticism and ecology to mean cultural critique? Rather than making a convincing argument for bridging scholarly work in the humanities with intellectual disciplines concerned with non-cultural objects of study, doesn’t _Ecology without Nature_ simply claim that there is only cultural critique?

This panel takes as its starting point the conceit that these questions are far from resolved. As such, it seeks contributions that will look specifically how and why we might find a place for literary study in relation to ecological and/or environmental issues. Contributors are welcome to discuss OOO, but alternate approaches to the question of “Why literature in environmental studies?” are also highly encouraged. Let us take the title of the conference, Irreverent Readings, and its paradigmatic use of literary study seriously--if such a thing can be said. How might we irreverently and ecocritically read? What is the relation of reading to the literary?

Other questions that may be of interest to this panel have to do with what “the literary” might be at all and how and whether or not “the literary” or literature might serve as a particularly trenchant object for the interrogation of environmental issues.

The theme of 21st annual (dis)junctions conference, hosted by UC Riverside, is “irreverent readings,” featuring keynote speakers Virginia Jackson (UC Irvine) and Constance Pendley (UC Santa Barbara). Abstracts of 250 to 300 words should be submitted via the form at www.disjunctions2014.org by February 10th, 2014.

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