Virtual Ecologies

deadline for submissions: 
December 15, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Natura / Rutgers University
contact email: 

Virtual Ecologies

9th Annual Natura Conference on Science and Epistemology


Hosted by Natura, a Rutgers University Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Working Group focused on critical perspectives of Science and Epistemology, the 2020 Natura Graduate Conference seeks papers on the topic of virtual ecologies: dreamed, immaterial, digital, imagined, or potential networks of relationships and ruptures between humans, nonhumans, and their environments.


Digital ecosystems, imagined worlds, abstractions of thought -- the virtual pervades the contemporary moment but also possesses a long history, the shadow of the actual or real. The conference seeks to examine the entwined relationships and surprising fractures that develop in the realm of the virtual, broadly construed. How does the virtual interact with the material, the embodied, and the immediate? How does the oikos of ecology -- the home, the household, the place to live -- transform when it becomes virtual? How do virtualities of the past impinge upon the present, and the present cast a virtual shadow onto the past? Are our ways of knowing intrinsically tied to virtuality, or does knowledge find its home in the material or real? How do power structures, abstractions, forms, and concepts intersect with lived experience and material conditions of existence?


Potential topics may include (but are not limited to):


  • Material and mediality

  • Games as lived experience

  • Environmental advocacy in a digital space

  • Virtual literary worlds

  • “Nature” as problem space

  • Algorithmic embodiment

  • Histories of virtuality and virtuality in history

  • Distributed agency

  • Mapping, surveillance, and practices of seeing

  • Immaterial spatiotemporal architecture and design

  • Impossible soundscapes

  • Digital pollution

  • Virtual repercussions of real-world behavior and real-world consequences to virtual speech


The conference will take place on Friday March 6th, 2020. Natura invites 250-word abstracts for 20-minute talks on any topic examining the role of virtual ecologies in the sciences and humanities. This event is open to graduate students and scholars working in any area of the arts, humanities, or sciences. Interested faculty or post-doctoral researchers are welcome to contact us about potential roles as panel moderators or discussants. Send proposals or requests for more information to; proposals should be sent by December 15.


Our keynote speaker for the conference will be Lisa Swanstrom, Associate Professor of English at the University of Utah and a recent a Visiting Scholar/Fellow in Norway at the University of Stavanger’s Greenhouse Project. Dr. Swanstrom is also a Co-Editor of Science Fiction Studies and a Co-Editor of the electronic book review. 




Natura: The Science and Epistemology Working Group is a graduate student working group within Rutgers University that serves as a forum to foster critical interdisciplinary conversations about the history, cultures, places, and theories of science, epistemology, and knowledge production. We are generously sponsored by the Rutgers British Studies Center, the School of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office, and the Graduate Student Association.