Literary Imagination of the Plasticene

deadline for submissions: 
September 3, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
MLA 2020 Convention Just-in-Time Session

According to the US Geological Survey’s findings published in May 2019, “it is raining plastic” in the Rocky Mountains. Reports of airborne microplastics travelling around the globe are being released. The Arctic snow is shown to contain plastic particles. These disturbing discoveries attest that the pervasiveness of plastic has never been more conspicuous, even in the most “pristine” regions of the planet. At the same time, with India's impending ban on importing plastics from abroad for recycling purposes, plastic acts a political metaphor of neoimperialism that backfires on the “first-world” countries. In this era of Plasticene, we breathe, eat, drink, and excrete plastic. It becomes increasingly more difficult to ignore, dismiss or get rid of plastics in our lives. In this light, how can we write and think about plastic? Is there a place for plastic in the realm of literary representations and theory? Can literature envision alternatives to the existing patterns of plastic consumption and pollution? This panel invites papers that dwell on a range of topics pertaining to English-language and world literatures and including, but not limited to:

- Plastic as metaphor

- Materialities of plastics and living bodies

- Plastic and cli-fi: alternative futures

- Recycling and social justice issues

- Plastic in food studies: consuming waste

- Representations of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

- Plastic and nuclear energy: immortal matter

- Plastic matter and hybrid literary forms

Contributions are welcome from a wide range of disciplines. Please send a 250-word abstract and a brief bio to before September 3rd. This panel is envisioned as one of MLA's “Just-in-Time” panels, hence the shorter deadline. More information about the convention and this type of sessions can be found at