Pastoral Cities, MMLA (Nov. 13-16, 2014, Detroit)
In his study Pastoral Cities (1987), James L. Machor gives the name "urban-pastoral" to a cultural myth of rural-urban synthesis, which he deems foundational to the moral geography of American life, from the Puritans' "City on a Hill" to Frederick Law Olmsted's "City Beautiful". To recognize and complicate this rural-urban dream, Machor argues, was one of the achievements of American writers through the nineteenth century. And yet, despite the recent pastoral turn in literary scholarship, few critics have analyzed urban-pastoralism in later or less canonical works. If, in 1987, Machor could give currency to urban-pastoralism by pointing to such formations as the suburbs and the industrial park, today we can point to the greening of the city, corporation, and institution—processes that now function beyond the bounds of any one nation. We can invoke, along with the discipline of urban ecology, a certain urban-ecological capital flowing through cultural artifacts that increasingly stake moral and social significance on discourses of sustainability.
For our panel we seek papers that address the urban-pastoral ideal, and which explore how this ideal permeates ideologies of our own time. While literature is our main focus, we will consider papers on film and other texts. Please send abstracts of approximately 250 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 30, 2014.