Edited collection: Empirical Ecocriticism

deadline for submissions: 
September 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Wojciech Malecki, Matthew Schneider-Mayerson & Alexa Weik von Mossner

Call for Papers

Edited Volume: Empirical Ecocriticism

There is a growing consensus across disciplines that narratives are of central importance to our relationships with other humans and nonhumans as well as the broader environment. However, until recently ecocritics have largely relied upon speculation to assess the critical question of the influence of environmental narratives on their audiences. This is due in part to the lack of interdisciplinary cooperation between humanists and social scientists in assessing how environmental narratives across various mediums contribute to our understanding of the world around us and our place in it. So as to better understand this critical question, we are organizing an edited collection dedicated to empirical ecocriticism. We hope that it will begin to address this lacuna, ask valuable empirical, theoretical, and methodological questions, and encourage both ecocritics and environmental social scientists to conduct similar research in the future.


In our definition, empirical ecocriticism is the empirically-grounded study of environmental narrative – in literature, film, television, etc. – and its influence on various audiences. Though we are open to different definitions of what would constitute empirical ecocriticism, we define this field as a fruitful commingling of existing fields of study, such as traditional ecocriticism, the empirical study of literature and art, environmental communication, and environmental psychology. For us, empirical ecocriticism is 1) Empirically grounded. 2) Open to qualitative and exploratory methodologies. 3) Focused on the effects of narrative strategies and techniques, with the kind of depth and nuance that have brought to their research for decades. 4) Features writing that is more engaging than the typical social science paper, since we hope to find an audience among both environmental humanists and social scientists. 5) Open to critical engagement with competing definitions of “empirical” data. For examples of what might constitute empirical ecocriticism, see the following articles:


  • Wojciech Małecki, Bogusław Pawłowski, and Piotr Sorokowski, “Literary fiction influences attitudes toward animal welfare,” PLoS ONE 11.1212 (2016)  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0168695
  • Wojciech Małecki, Bogusław Pawłowski, Marcin Cieński, and Piotr Sorokowski, “Can Fiction Make Us Kinder to Other Species? The Impact of Fiction on pro-Animal Attitudes and Behavior.” Poetics 66 (February 2018): 54–63. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.poetic.2018.02.004
  • Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, “The Influence of Climate Fiction: An Empirical Survey of Readers,” forthcoming in Environmental Humanities 10.2(e-mail for pre-publication copy)


Interested scholars might also consult two recent works that deal with similar questions about the influence of environmental narrative:


  • Scott Slovic and Paul Slovic, Numbers and Nerves: Information, Emotion, and Meaning in a World of Data (Oregon State University Press, 2015)
  • Alexa Weik von Mossner, Affective Ecologies: Empathy, Emotion, and Environmental Narrative (Ohio State University Press, 2017)


We encourage interdisciplinary approaches and collaborations, and are open to various methodologies – qualitative, quantitative, ethnographic, historical, mixed, etc. We hope to include work that focuses on the incredible diversity of environmental media in existence today, including but not limited to poetry, short stories, novels, children’s literature, comic books, film, television, cartoons, video games, music, sound art, visual art, dance, and theatre. We also hope to include studies with a range of geographical diversity, speaking to the existence and significance of forms of environmental literature, art, and popular culture that have sometimes been overlooked by Anglophone ecocriticism.


We intend for this book to establish the direction of this field of study for other scholars to follow. It will contain an introduction co-authored by the editors (Wojciech Małecki, Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, and Alexa Weik von Mossner); a section that explains the various methodological approaches to empirical ecocriticism; a series of case studies; and two responses, written by senior scholars of ecocriticism. For this call, we are primarily looking for abstracts that describe potential case studies.

If you would like to contribute an essay, please e-mail an abstract of 500 words by September 15, 2018 to Wojciech Małecki (wojciech.malecki@uwr.edu.pl), Matthew Schneider-Mayerson (schneider-mayerson@yale-nus.edu.sg) and Alexa Weik von Mossner (Alexa.WeikvonMossner@aau.at), with “Empirical Ecocriticism Abstract” as the subject. Abstracts should be accompanied by academic CVs. Notification of acceptance will be given by the end of September. Completed essays (written in English) will be expected by December 31, 2019.