Religion & the Environment in Contemp Lit (ALA Symp, TX, Feb 26-28); due Sept 15

full name / name of organization: 
Society for Contemporary Literature
contact email: 

The Society for Contemporary Literature, a group dedicated to the study of literature of the last 25 years, invites 300-word abstracts for a proposed panel at the God & the American Writer Symposium of the American Literature Assoc. We encourage scholars to think broadly about the environment and its relationship to the divine in contemporary literature. Recent writing occupies various points on a spectrum of approaches to that relationship—examples include the acceptance of the degradation of the environment as a sign of the Second Coming in the apocalyptic tenor of popular "rapture fiction," the opposition of evangelical preaching to sociobiology and science in E.O. Wilson's _Anthill_ (2010), the mythic and prophetic elements of Cormac McCarthy's _The Road_ (2006), and the deployment of Biblical tropes to present a religious defense of biodiversity in Barbara Kingsolver's _Flight Behavior_ (2012).

Suggestions for exploration include:

• How have writers of the last decade figured the relationship between God and the environment?
• Has contemporary degradation of the environment been echoed in a denigration of spirituality in literature, or has the inverse occurred?
• How does genre affect the representation of religion and the environment in contemporary literature?
• How do writers mobilize religious imagery or metaphors to combat eco-skepticism?
• How does ethnic, regional or doctrinal allegiance inflect literary practice?
• In what ways is gender a significant factor in the treatment of the relationship between the divine and the environment in literary works?
• How does literature for young adults portray the relationship of nature to the divine?
• What is the relation between contemporary environmental writing and utopian or dystopian traditions?
• How do concepts of guilt and redemption inform environmentalist literature?

Please send 300-word abstracts and one-paragraph bio statements to Karen Weekes ( by Sept 15, 2014; submissions should be sent via email with the subject line "SCL Religion Env Symposium abstract." Note that scholars are limited to one 15-minute presentation at this conference and that no audio-visual equipment will be available. Notifications will be sent by Oct 15, 2014, to allow submission to the general CFP by its deadline.

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