NeMLA 2022 Panel: Queer Ecologies in Victorian Literature
In Strange Natures: Futurity, Empathy, and the Queer Ecological Imagination (2013), Nicole Seymour writes, “In the past few years, queer ecology has emerged as a burgeoning area of interdisciplinary study,” (21) which traces and builds upon a host of “empathetic, ethical interrelationships between the queer and the non-human” (23). In a similar vein, Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands and Bruce Erickson state in “A Genealogy of Queer Ecologies” that “the task of a queer ecology is to probe the intersections of sex and nature with an eye to developing a sexual politics that more clearly includes considerations of the natural world and its biosocial constitution” (161). Taking cues from Mortimer-Sandilands, Erickson, and Seymour, our panel will take up key features of “an environmental politics that demonstrates . . . the ways in which sexual relations organize and influence both the material world of nature and our perceptions, experiences, and constitutions of that world” (Mortimer-Sandilands and Erickson 161). Among other things, this panel seeks to bring into dialogue queerness and eco-criticism to explain the importance of extending the study of queerness to literary representations of ecology and eco-critical thought (e.g., reclaiming “nature” as a queer potential), and to demonstrate some ways in which the Victorian novel represents queer ecology as a site of alterity, possibility, and nonconformity, one that confounds normative expressions of gender and sexuality, and the ways that they police individuals and intimate relationships.