Labor, Leisure, and the Anthropocene: ASLE, Detroit, MI, June 20-24, 2017

deadline for submissions: 
November 30, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
ASLE: Association for Studies in Literature and Environment
contact email: 

Seeking conference paper proposals for ASLE: Association for Studies in Literature and Environment.   

The Anthropocene has developed largely because of our cultures of work and our work machines. This fact calls for a reevaluation of work. How might this effort proceed? How should we reimagine labor and leisure in light of climate change? What does the news of the Anthropocene teach us about ideologies of labor and leisure? What does the naming technology of “the Anthropocene” make possible? What does it suppress or disable?   

Also: Labor and leisure are often demarcated in temporal terms, terms that determine much else in cultural life. The Anthropocene is also temporal, but on a vastly different scale. How do these temporalities inform one another? How should they?

Let’s form a panel to explore these and related issues. Specific questions might also include the following: 

  • How—and how much—should we work in the Anthropocene?
  • How—and how much—should we recreate in the Anthropocene?
  • What constitutes work in the era of climate change? What should constitute it?
  • What can working-class and labor-centered literatures and cultural products (film, music, television, and so on) tell us about the experiences and meanings of work in capitalism and the Anthropocene?
  • How do our readings of disaster texts change in light of the Anthropocene? (Disaster texts include When the Levees Broke, Triangle: The Fire that Changed America, In the Heart of the Sea, Treme, The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dustbowl, The Johnstown Flood, and so on.)
  • How do readings of canonical literary (or other) texts change in light of the Anthropocene? How does the canon itself change? How should it change?
  • How might or should disciplinary formations adapt to the Anthropocene?
  • Is there a “Black Anthropocene,” akin to the Black Atlantic? If so, what are its attributes? What about other distinct formations or understandings of the Anthropocene in light of ethnic, gender, or regional identities?  
  • How can the histories of deforestation, in Michigan or well beyond, be read in light of Anthropocenic thought? What about histories of pollution, such as the infamous burning of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland? How have these realities been appropriated by cultures? (Consider Burning River beer from Great Lakes Brewery, for instance.)
  • How should we rethink technology and the technical in light of the Anthropocene?
  • What problems or concerns attend to the very idea of Anthropocene? (Consider, for example, Donna Haraway’s criticisms of the notion.)

 In line with the suggestion in the ASLE call for papers to pursue “panels that minimize formal presentation in favor of engaged emergent discussion,” I imagine panelists delivering ten-minute presentations that open into a larger discussion (unless panelists prefer otherwise). I encourage us to develop the papers beyond the conference, possibly into an essay collection. 

The ASLE call for papers is here:  The ASLE deadline for proposal submission is December 12, 2016. Please send 300 word proposals (or ideas and questions) to Ryan Hediger by November 30, 2016: