Marx, Ecology, Literature

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: 

In the face of the recent proliferation of the term “Anthropocene” in literary and cultural studies, how might we account for this geological epoch and its subsequent catastrophic environmental realities? As scholars of literature, we do not lack for theoretical models, both in and out of our “field.” Moreover, some of the most energetic and useful perspectives have taken up, broadly, a Marxian dialectical framework. Such perspectives include world-systems theory, ecological-materialisms, and in the field of literary studies and the humanities broadly, a variety of methodological and theoretical approaches framed under the banner of energy and/or environmental humanities.

This panel invites papers that ask how we might understand these projects to have a shared theoretical genealogy, and where these approaches depart from each other.

At the heart of these disciplinary antagonisms is a question: how might we mobilize dialectical literary theories and methods to match the scale of the Anthropocene? And then, why do we need Marx or Marxism to produce a specifically literary critique of Anthropocene discourse? Perhaps, more specifically, what is the function of literature in a world in which the line between science fiction and lived reality looks to be increasingly blurred? This panel aspires to respond to these questions. Importantly, literature occupies a privileged sphere of knowledge production outside of the quantitative realm of Science. This does not mean literary production and its realm of knowledge is anti-science, but rather that it gives us a series of conceptual models (anchored in language) that holds open space for non-scientized, non-mimetic representation. The role of literature, and specifically literary world-building, with its ability to make and unmake, provides an alternative to the hegemony of scientized knowledge.

While the panel prioritizes approaches that explore the usefulness of a Marxian, ecological approach to literature, or perhaps more properly, the ways in which literature produces or grapples with dialectical approaches to imagined and constructed worlds, we encourage interdisciplinary and intra-methodological approaches as well. Relevant topics include, but are by no means limited to:

· Post-, anti-, in-humanism(s)

· Ecocriticism and environmental humanities

· The novel and the environment

· Dialectical materialism and the Anthropocene

· Science Fiction, Speculative Realism, Dystopia

· Queer and Green Theories

· Ecopoetics

· Ecologic temporalities

· Environmental racism(s)

· Colonial and imperial extraction

250-500 word abstracts submitted through the NeMLA portal