CFP: Constructions of Landscape in American Literature Panel: NeMLA 2013 Boston, March 21-24 2013

full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association

Much of the critical attention regarding what has been variously called environmental literature, literature of place, or nature writing has been directed recently at animal/human relations, the definition and problematization of the "natural," and the idea that nature writing, like nature itself, may be dead. This panel seeks to restore ecocritical attention to the artistic concept of landscape, with its multiple artistic meanings. Landscapes, by definition, are what humans perceive, but rather than see them as vehicles for separating humans from the natural world, this panel aims to consider landscapes in American literature as deliberate attempts to demonstrate, but also to enact, constructions of place, and to show the relations โ€” both problematic and possible โ€” between humans and nature, between geography and architecture, between the place itself and what is built on that place. Its goal is to show how profoundly (especially 20th and 21st century) American literature is a literature of place and places โ€” places that are cultural, built, natural, populated, unpopulated, rural, urban, etc. We hope to contribute to a widening out of both American literary studies and ecocritical studies, to find the places where they join.

This panel seeks papers on American literary constructions of place, especially of the 20th and 21st century, that probe human/nature interactions and intersections. We are particularly interested in new methods of examining American literature, those bringing together ecocritical, historical, and geographical insights. We seek a broad representation of American places and authors. Send 200-300 word abstracts by Sunday, Sept. 30th to both chairs: Karen Waldron ( and Marilyn Rye (