BIKE to ASLE 2017 [panel CFP]

deadline for submissions: 
November 24, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Association for the Study of Literature and Environment conference

Open Call - BIKE ASLE 2017

In an attempt to interrogate the environmental impact of conference participation and to extend the boundaries of conference attendance, we are organizing a panel premised on traveling by bicycle from New York City to the June 2017 Association for the Study of Literature and Environment conference in Detroit. We are looking for New York-area ASLE attendees who are interested in joining us on this tour and presenting on their experience.

It is increasingly difficult to look beyond the irony of the high environmental cost of attending conferences to discuss climate change. For a medium-sized, fifty speaker, three-day conference, travel alone amounts to the annual carbon footprint of 165 people living in Kenya ( Recently, climate scientist Peter Kalmus wrote about his decision to stop flying altogether, including to conferences, a decision that reduced his carbon footprint by two thirds ( In a similar vein, Ken Hiltner at the UCSB Environmental Humanities Initiative published an extensive white paper for organizers who would like to follow their model of recent “Nearly Carbon-Neutral” online conferences ( 

My own experience travelling to the 2015 ASLE conference had me on three flights from New York to Chicago to Seattle to Lewiston. Of course, a flight was late, and so my last leg was replaced with a late-night, five-hour drive from Seattle to Moscow. All those flights, drives, and complex use of carbon-based transportation to present a 20-minute paper at a conference in which the major focus is climate change and the environment. This contradiction between thought and action is represented elegantly in Philippe Squarzoni’s graphic novel Climate Changed, where, after struggling with this inconsistency, he opts for transatlantic travel via cargo ship to attend comics conventions, as he realizes his subject is veering more and more toward the political implications of everyday environmental action.

In lieu of a cargo ship and in place of simpler and more economical air transportation, we have decided to explore the role of travelling, writing, and preparing for academic conferences through a long-distance bicycle tour.

We are currently planning the logistics of the trip, which will start in Manhattan, go north through Albany, west toward Buffalo, and across southern Ontario to Detroit. As such, we invite proposals from NYC, Upstate NY, and other scholars in the Northeast interested in joining us for this ~2 week, ~750 mile trip that will result in a proposed 4-8 personal panel / paper jam session at ASLE. We expect the resultant presentations to be creative, reflective, and improvisatory. Topics will include: navigation and negotiation in the academy, deconstructing conferencing, dis/ability and research, experience of the environment, travel writing, etc.

As this is a large project, we invite participants willing and able to any extent: travelling a short leg of the trip, offering hospitality along the route, or reflections on their inability to participate in such a trip.

Please contact David Rodriguez ( and Caity Swanson ( with an initial statement of interest by 24 November that includes:

  • Name, institution, student/faculty position

  • Location

  • Info on:

    • Extent to which you can be involved in the trip

    • Previous (in)experience with bicycle touring

    • Potential conflicts

    • Proposed presentation topics

We will get in touch with the group of interested participants / panelists as the deadline for the CFP approaches (12 December) in order to open up dialogue about logistics, planning, and the proposal.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us for any reason,

David & Caity