Modernism, Empire, and the Environment (MSA 2020 Panel)

deadline for submissions: 
March 6, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Elizabeth Dinneny / University of Maryland, College Park
contact email: 

“Modernism, Empire, and the Environment”

MSA 2020 Brooklyn panel

22-25 October 2020

Abstracts due 3/6/20

Without constituting a single origin of our current climate crisis, European imperialism provided material structures and epistemology that enabled this crisis and continue to support it today—from the logic of territory and worlding to that of resource extraction and exploitation. Imperialism shaped negotiations of identity, the human, and the natural, resulting in hierarchies of value that persist in contemporary discourse and policy. Aesthetic modernism was both enabled by and often resistant to imperialism, even as it questioned romantic and realist ideas about nature, rethinking humans’ and non-humans’ connection to the environment in the wake of advanced industrialization, global capitalism, and total war.

This panel is interested in triangulating modernism, empire, and the environment, including their enduring effects on the discourses of global climate, ecology, and the Anthropocene, among others.

Inviting papers that fit within, but are not limited to, the following themes:

  • Geographies of empire
  • Climate aesthetics
  • Modernism’s hyperobjects
  • Environmental racism/environmental justice
  • Ecofeminism and sustainability
  • Theory in/of the Anthropocene, Plantationocene, etc.
  • Technologies of empire
  • Indigenous culture and the environment
  • Queer ecologies
  • Materiality and the environment
  • Non-human ecologies
  • Ontologies of the Anthropocene

Please submit 300 word abstracts to Elizabeth Dinneny at by 3/6.