MFS Special Issue - The Anthropocene: Fiction and the End(s) of Human Ecologies

deadline for submissions: 
April 15, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Modern Fiction Studies
contact email: 

The Anthropocene: Fiction and the End(s) of Human Ecologies
Guest Editor: Robert P. Marzec
Deadline for Submissions: 15 April 2017

The editors of MFS invite essays that reflect on the significance of the anthropocene (as a concept and a planetary materiality) in modern and contemporary fiction and film. In the course of the last few years the anthropocene as an idea has gained considerable importance across the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Marking the onset of a new geological age, the anthropocene names a challenge on a scale that extends beyond any previous human historical concern. Events such as mass extinction, sea level rise, food and water scarcity, mass migration, and the great acceleration are both the result of but also beyond the human—as a species and a concept. This special issue seeks essays that address the complexity of thinking the end(s) of anthropocentric vision and creation as manifested variously in cultural, political, philosophical, and scientific formations. Essays may address recent fictional works associated directly with the anthropogenic event of climate change (such as Ian McEwan’s Solar, Margaret Atwood’s Maddaddam series, Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods, Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior, Claire Vaye Watkins’s Gold Fame Citrus); earlier twenty-first-century works of fiction that trace human planetary impact prior to the development of the anthropocene as an idea; or works of fiction by authors like Chinua Achebe, Ngugi, Indra Sinha, Jamaica Kincaid, Amitav Ghosh, Kiran Desai, Zakes Mda, J. M. Coetzee, Patricia Grace, and others that trace the different geographies of anthopogenic impact.

We encourage authors to consider a broad spectrum of questions: How significant or successful have fictional responses to the anthropocene been? Given the supremacy of the STEM disciplines, how might we articulate the importance of the humanities and fictional imagination to the topic? How might we trouble the above-mentioned conceptualizations of climate change in terms of the much longer history of the colonial exploitation of nature? To what extent has fiction articulated different levels of what we identify as human? What representational challenges arise when Western and Northern relations (scientific, literary, and others) confront non-Western and non-Northern relations to the anthropocene? How might we trace a more nuanced understanding of human expansion and power in terms of unequal planetary production, distribution, and resource allocation? How might we confront differences in human geological and ecological influence in terms of the wealthy and the privileged, and the indigenous, the microminority, and the subaltern? How might critical efforts in literary and humanistic studies address scientific and political theories of mitigation, adaptation, and sustainability? How might we connect these fictional works to philosophical attempts to theorize anthropogenic force, in works for instance by Heidegger, Adorno, Horkheimer, Foucault, Spivak, Agamben, Haraway, Serres, Virilio, Said, Guha, Nixon, Chakrabarty, DeLoughrey, Handley, and others? These questions are not meant to be exhaustive, and we invite other cultural, historical, and theoretical considerations.

Essays should be 6,000-8,500 words, including all quotations and bibliographic references, and should follow the MLA Style Manual (7th edition) for internal citations and Works Cited. Please submit your essay via the online submission form at the following web address: http//

Queries should be directed to Robert P. Marzec (