The Strange Place of Ecocriticism: The Material as Cultural Artifact?
Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association
PAMLA 116th Annual Conference November 11-13, 2016
Panel Chair: Dewey W. Hall, Professor of English
Affiliation: California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Session Title: “The Strange Place of Ecocriticism: The Material as
Site: PAMLA 2016 at the Westin Hotel, Pasadena, CA.
Submit Proposal to http://www.pamla.org/2016/topic-areas
Deadline: July 1, 2016
The strange place of ecocritical discourse concerns the question of the materiality of nature as cultural artifact, or not. Paper topics for the panel may include writers as case studies to address the topic such as: Charlotte Smith, Wordsworth, Keats, Clare, Thoreau, Emerson, Dickinson, Heaney, Lowell, Bishop, Berry among others.
Lawrence Buell’s The Future of Environmental Criticism (2005) states, “The emergence of contemporary environmental criticism is in part the story of an evolution from imaging life-in-place as deference to the claims of (natural) environment toward an understanding of place-making as a culturally inflected process in which nature and culture must be seen as a mutuality rather than as separable domains” (67, emphasis mine). Accordingly, Buell identifies two place-holders within the polemic of what he calls “environmental criticism”: “life-in-place” referring to the actual, natural, physical, and material aspects in the environment; and “place-making” indicating the cultural, socially-constructed, and often political aspects involved in what Andrew J. Hubbell has called “cultural ecology.” On one hand, a redwood stands tall and majestic as a host for fern in a biome, as John Muir observed. On the other hand, that same redwood is part of Muir Woods National Monument authorized to preserve the redwoods.
The panel session invites paper proposals that take up discussion about the strange place of ecocritical discourse concerning the question of the materiality of nature as cultural artifact, or not, often represented through the production of articles, monographs, and editions. Papers may be interdisciplinary, transhistorical, transatlantic, or, more broadly, transnational.