Ecofictions for an Endangered World: The Legitimacy of Hope

deadline for submissions: 
April 15, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies

Ecofictions for an Endangered World: The Legitimacy of Hope

Call for Papers for a special section of HJEAS

Proposed for Spring 2022

Over the last few years, discourses on eco-social crises in the wake of the sixth mass extinction, on the extensive human appropriation of the ecosphere leading to ocean acidification, soil contamination and deadly zoonotic spillovers—such as the current Covid-19 pandemic—have duly been couched in dire terms of systemic collapse. Cultural images of the demise of modernity (be that second or third modernity, based on fossil fuel growth economies) abound, yet obsession with growth is invariably and universally hailed alike by capitalists, socialists or fascists (Daly 8). Sustainability professionals apprehend near-term, climate-induced social collapse, so Jem Bendell provides us a map of deep adaptation “to navigate this extremely difficult issue.” Historians (such as the contributors to The Ends of the Earth) address the intertwined destiny of humans and the environment within a contracting world, in which the earth has been turned into a factory, even a toy we could quickly blow up (Worster 17, 20). The environmental crisis signifies the concatenation of several other crises, those of society, culture, and the individual (Eckersley 7-32). In the aggregate, we seem to have every reason to plunge into gloom and despair.

Yet, at the same time, we live in an age of inevitable hope even if it evolves from crisis and loss. Indeed, the legitimacy of hope is exactly what the editors of the prospective special section of the Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies (HJEAS) seek to address here. In accordance with this goal, we invite ecocritical contributions to the special section which elaborate on the theme of Ecofictions for an Endangered World. We assume with ecocritic Lawrence Buell that the “environmental crisis involves a crisis of the imagination the amelioration of which depends on finding better ways of imaging nature and humanity's relation to it” (2); so we acknowledge the value and importance of the literary imagination. Guided by Cornelius Castoriadis, we believe that beyond the constricting nature of the symbolic and conceptual intermediaries whereby our structures of reality are established, the social imaginary also functions as the creative core of the socio-historical and psychic worlds; thus we endorse the creative potential of the social imaginary to initiate change even toward concrete utopias.

Based on all of the above, we invite essays committed to environmentally-valenced literary and cultural studies on English, Irish or American literary or filmic narratives that

  • challenge the current dysfunctional global system fostered by cornucopian fantasies of unlimited expansion in the face of limited natural resources and imminent environmental collapse;
  • map out socio-ecological transformation from crisis into communities of survival, indeed of wellbeing;
  • “plot a path to benign degrowth” (Dobson 155);
  • foreground the possibilities of collective hope by living in loss through “making oddkin” so that “we become with each other or not at all” (Haraway 4);
  • explore nowtopian and utopian experiments and guerilla narratives to expand our understanding of what is possible and conceivable at this point;
  • consider the role of the environment in colonial and postcolonial fictions;
  • theorize hope and optimism;
  • engage with Black, indigenous, feminist and queer visions/imaginations.

Contributors are encouraged to tap into and also make innovative use of the existing literature of ecocriticism, including considerations of eco-narratology (as pioneered by Ecocriticism and Narrative Theory in English Studies).

Proposals of 200 words are welcome by April 15, 2021, to which we will respond by April 30, 2021. The publication of the HJEAS issue with the special section Eco-fictions for an Endangered World: The Legitimacy of Hope is planned for Spring 2022. Should we receive a large number of substantial proposals, we might consider publishing the articles as an edited volume of the HJEAS Books series to be published by the University of Debrecen. 

The journal is very open to this themed block proposal and will work with contributors during these especially difficult pandemic-dominated months. 

Submit proposals: https://ojs.lib.unideb.hu/hjeas/about/submissions

HJEAS seeks to publish the best of Hungarian and international scholarship in all the fields covered by English and American Studies, including but not limited to literature, history, art, philosophy, religion, and theory. HJEAS issues are available on JSTOR, ProQuest and EBSCO, and listed each year in PMLA Annual Bibliography.

More information about HJEAS, submission guidelines, and style sheet, please consult:

https://ojs.lib.unideb.hu/hjeas

 

Eva Federmayer, Dr. Habil.

Doctoral Program Gender in English and American Literature

School of English and American Studies 

Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary

 

Dorottya Mozes, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor 
North American Department 

Institute of English and American Studies
University of Debrecen, Hungary

 

 

Works Cited

 

Bendell, Jem. “Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy.” IFLAS Occasional Paper 2. July 27th, 2018. https://mahb.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/deepadaptation.pdf Accessed 05 Jan 2021.

Buell, Lawrence. The Environmental Imagination: Thoreau, Nature Writing, and the Formation of American Culture. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1995.

Castoriadis, Cornelius L'Institution imaginaire de la société [The Imaginary Institution of Society], Paris: Seuil, 1975.

Daly, Herman E. Steady-State Economics. Washington: Island Press, 1991.

Dobson, Andrew. “The Politics of Post-Growth.” John Blewitt and Ray Cunningham, eds. The Post-Growth Project: How the End of Economic Growth Could Bring a Fairer and Happier Society. London: Green House Publishing, 2014.

Eckersley, Robyn. Environmentalism and Political Theory: Toward an Ecocentric Approach. Albany: State University of New York, UCL Press, 1992.

Haraway, Donna J. Staying with the Trouble. Durham and London: Duke UP, 2016.

James, Erin et al. “Ecocriticism and Narrative Theory: An Introduction.” English Studies, vol. 99, no. 4, 2018. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0013838X.2018.1465255 Accessed 20 May 2009.

Worster, Donald, ed. The Ends of the Earth. New York: Cambridge UP, 1988.