ASLE 2019 Panel: "Experimental Ecologies"

deadline for submissions: 
December 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Christopher Walker, Colby College
contact email: 

For this ASLE 2019 panel, we invite papers that explore the intersections of environmental thinking and experimentation. From Thomas Moore’s "Utopia" (1516) to Charles Darwin’s studies on the Galápagos in the nineteenth century, places such as islands, as well as human and nonhuman bodies, have been figured as sites of aesthetic, political, and scientific experimentation. The concept of experimentation orients us into hundreds of years of highly violent experiments, as evidenced by plantations, nuclear testing, lab animals, and political discourse that frames low-lying atolls as the proverbial canary in the coal mine for the cosmopolitan testing of planetary boundaries. And yet, the cultivation of experimental practices, places, and imaginaries has also been important in diverse projects of ecological regeneration and decolonization.  

In keeping with the conference theme, "Paradise on Fire," this panel will examine how experimentation contributes to both utopian and dystopian imaginaries. Topics may include, but are by no means limited to: Concepts/forms of experimentation in environmental theory and arts; Islands as sites that both invite and resist experimentation, including the philosophical and literary history of islands as spaces of isolation; The role that islands have played in scientific articulations of ecosystems (such as MacArthur and Wilson’s "Island Biogeography"); Adaptation to sea-level rise and other climate-related processes; Narratives of laboratories, farms, and ecological restoration; Geo- and environmental engineering; Experimental extractivisms, such as deep ocean mining. 

If you have any questions, please contact Christopher Walker ( and Teresa Shewry ( The biennial conference of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment will take place in Davis, CA June 26-30, 2019. Please submit a 300 word abstract and brief bio through the conference website ( by December 15, 2018 at 11:59 pm EST.