After Loss, After Despair: Environmental Literature, Memorialization, and Futurity (MLA, 1/8-11/2015)

full name / name of organization: 
Clare Echterling / Association for the Study of Literature and Environment
contact email: 

Environmentalism must consider loss while also looking forward: we mourn the environmental changes and losses that have already occurred, mitigate those that are upon us, and work to prevent those in the future. Firmly entrenched in the Anthropocene, though, our environmental future appears very bleak. Apocalyptic visions abound, and grief, anger, and even despair pervade the many arenas of environmental discourse. Yet the danger of despair is the very absence of hope that defines it and threatens to quell enactments of alternative futures. How do we move forward, then, when material ecological changes—losses—also bring about cultural and individual psychic changes patterned by despair? How might literary representations of material losses help us politicize despair? Timothy Morton has given us a theory of "dark ecology" and Rob Nixon has more recently asked us to consider "slow violence," but how do we grieve horrific ecological changes that evade easy representation and span beyond readily imagined temporal periods? In what ways can grief, memory, and memorialization drive visions and enactments of alternative futures?

This panel invites papers that examine environmental literature and media as a site for memorializing environmental loss, cataloguing and combatting despair, and envisioning viable futures. While by no means limited to these subjects, essays might address:

• Memory, archives, and environmental literature
• Environmentalism & the politics of despair
• Deep time, environmental loss, & memory
• Affect theory & environmentalism
• Environmental elegies & futurity
• Witnessing & the role of the writer-activist
• Material loss & trauma

Please submit a 250-word abstract and brief CV to Clare Echterling, Association for the Study of Literature and Environment MLA Liaison at by March 15th.