Ireland and Ecocriticism: An Interdisciplinary Conference, 18-19 June 2010 (Deadline: 15 February 2010)

full name / name of organization: 
Maureen O'Connor, Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Ireland is a land of pastoral greenery, but its landscape is an arguably 'unnatural' construct, a topography shaped by a history of conflict and suffering. Gerry Smyth asserted in 2000 that 'Irish Studies and ecocriticism ... have a lot to say to each other', yet despite the centrality of the land to Irish identity at home and abroad, ecocriticism remains largely absent from Irish Studies in Ireland. One explanation for reluctance to engage with this theoretical practice may be the long history of the country's conflicted, traumatized relation to the land, its often reductive figuration as 'nature', and one aim of this conference will be to examine this critical recalcitrance, when the land and the landscape feature in a vast range of cultural productions in Ireland, from folklore and music, to poetry and painting. The longstanding tension in Western society between 'nature' and 'culture' has unique implications for the social and political framing of the natural world in an Irish context. This fraught and complicated relationship urgently requires interrogation in an age of rapid climate change, when, for example, a country as wet as Ireland faces a water crisis. Proposals are welcome from across the disciplines, including environmental studies, anthropology, journalism, migration studies, history, geography, urban planning, music, literary studies, art history, folklore studies, archaeology, education, architecture, women's studies, philosophy, theology, cultural studies, sociology, film and media studies, and colonial/postcolonial studies.
Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

Plantation and settlement
Irish ecofeminism
The simianised Irish, Paddy's pig, and animal rights
Folklore and fairytales
Traditional music
Irish-language texts—the nature of translation, translating nature
Meat-eating and national identity
'Oriental' Ireland and theosophy
Colonial/postcolonial perspectives on representations of the natural
Agrarian movements and utopian communities
Ruins and landscape
Landscape and national character
Gendering the landscape
The 'Celtic Tiger', late capital, and the death of nature
Tourism and the heritage industry
The visual arts, past and present
The Catholic Church and the 'natural'
Diaspora and nostalgia
Landscape-based worship: holy wells, patterns, and pilgrimages

Send proposals (of no more than 500 words) before 15 February 2010 to:
Dr Maureen O'ConnorDepartment of English Language and Literature
Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, Ireland