ACLA 2020 The Poetics and Politics of Eco-Cosmopolitanism in Contemporary World Literature

deadline for submissions: 
September 23, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
American Comparative Literature Association
contact email: 

In the light of the material turn in the humanities and social sciences, there has been an increasing interest in material contexts, embodied experiences, and situated forms of knowledge. In this context, Ursula K. Heise  emphasizes the urgency of developing an ideal of “eco-cosmopolitanism,” or environmental world citizenship, observing that it is ‘imperative to reorient current U.S. environmentalist discourse, ecocriticism included, toward a more nuanced understanding of how both local cultural and ecological systems are imbricated in global ones’ (2008, 59). Heise’s remark envisions individuals and groups as a part of planetary “imagined communities,” with both human and nonhuman members. Patrick Hayden’s similar notion of “world environment citizenship” also entails an ethical concern with the social, political, and economic problems associated with the environment and humanity’s dependence on it. In a different trajectory with regards to the notion of “eco,” the cosmopolitical proposal, as introduced by Isabelle Stengers denies any relationship with the Kantian notion of cosmopolitanism. Stengers does not present “a good common world”, but seeks  to slow down the construction of  “the common,” by creating a space for hesitation – an interstice where concepts such as ‘good’ and ‘common’ can be reshuffled, reexamined and redefined (2005, 994).

Taking its cue from these conceptualizations and among others, this seminar seeks to discuss, expand on,and think deeply about the debates that have emerged around eco-cosmopolitanism in contemporary world literatures. Is it better to be rooted locally to develop a responsible ethic toward the earth, or to engage in environmental issues from a global, cosmopolitan perspective? What spaces does eco-cosmopolitanism produce and how do they differ from those produced by the cosmopolitan idea of one “good common world’? What forms, modes or genres are especially useful for illuminating eco-cosmopolitanism?  How world literature might generate new insights and frameworks that help understand eco-cosmopolitanism at large? How does world literature explore and exploit conceptions of eco-cosmopolitanism whether they are philosophical, aesthetic or historical? What are the limits of eco-cosmopolitanism in terms of who or what is included and excluded in world literature?


Possible  topics include but are certainly not limited to:


  • landscape, memory and eco-cosmopolitanism
  • sites of trauma and eco-cosmopolitanism
  • eco-cosmopolitanism, representing environmental and climate crises
  • eco-cosmopolitanism at various scales
  • the uses of affect for apprehending and representing eco-cosmopolitanism
  • eco-cosmopolitanism in the Anthropocene
  • particular aesthetic modes (i.e. apocalypse, gothic, pastoral) or epistemological modes (i.e. the uncanny, alienation, shock) about eco-cosmopolitanism
  • new connections between global, national, and local forms of awareness into eco-cosmopolitanism
  • queer ecology and eco-cosmopolitanism


Please submit abstracts of 250-300 words via the ACLA website by September 23. Inquires may be sent to