The Nonhuman in American Literary Naturalism

deadline for submissions: 
January 8, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Kenneth K Brandt and Karin M Danielsson
contact email: 

Call for proposals

The Nonhuman in American Literary Naturalism

Editors: Kenneth K Brandt and Karin M Danielsson

At the end of the 19th century, American authors such as Stephen Crane, Frank Norris, Theodore Dreiser, and Jack London were influenced by new advances in science—notably the idea of evolution. Nature and the nonhuman were crucial for these writers, whom scholars most often group under the rubric of American literary naturalists. Traditional scholarship on American literary naturalism has closely attended to various environmental pressures in urban and wilderness settings, but scholars have paid much less attention to the naturalists’ investigations into the nonhuman, such as animals, plants, landscapes, houses, or weather. To extend and deepen our understanding of this under-researched field, we propose a volume of essays that offers a wide variety of innovative critical approaches to the nonhuman in American naturalist literature. We welcome studies based in ecocriticism, animal studies, new materialism, narrative theory, or ethics. We are receptive to essay proposals focused on the core naturalists from around 1900 as well as more contemporary writers in the naturalist tradition. Proposals may focus on authors including Crane, Norris, London, Wharton, Garland, Dreiser, Chopin, Dunbar, Sinclair, Twain, Glasgow, Frederic, Cather, O’Neill, Steinbeck, Wright, Hemingway, Petry, Dos Passos, Larsen, Farrell, Hammett, Cain and others. More recent writers may include Oates, Vonnegut, DeLillo, Morrison, McCarthy, Wilson, Pynchon, and others.

Possible topic areas might include but are not limited to:

  • Animalagency   
  • Anthropomorphism
  • Nonhuman sentience
  • Ecology
  • Ethology
  • Evolution
  • Farming
  • Forests, trees, plants
  • Houses and other structures
  • Human–nonhuman intersubjectivity
  • Landscape and place
  • Physical or environmental transformations  
  • Posthumanism
  • Speciesism
  • Technology’s intersections with the nonhuman
  • Weather and climate
  • Wild, feral, and domestic nonhumans

The Lexington Books Ecocritical Theory and Practice series editor has expressed a strong interest in the project and has requested a full proposal. It is the publisher’s wish that authors or at least one co-author holds a PhD.

 We invite essay proposals of a maximum of 500 words on any topic relating to the nonhuman in American literary naturalism by the deadline of the 8 January 2021. Please include a title, a maximum of five key words, and a brief biography. We aim to reply to respondents by 25 February 2021, and full drafts of essays (5000–8000 words) will be due 1 September 2021. Please send a 500-word maximum proposal and a brief biography to karin.molander.danielsson@mdh.se and kbrandt@scad.edu by 8 January, 2021.