How Things Will Go: Genre and Infrastructure in the Environmental Humanities (ASAP/13)

deadline for submissions: 
February 5, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Rebecca Oh, ASAP/13 (Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present)
contact email: 

Genre and infrastructure are both structuring forms that shape how things will go. Generic narrative worlds shape emplotment, likely or unlikely events, types of characters, in/appropriate actions, and readerly expectations; genre organizes both narrative elements and the relations between them by creating frames and edges through which to interpret the world. Likewise, infrastructures organize things and the relations between them, whether by enabling or blocking the movement of people and objects. They constrain or facilitate uses and perceptions. This seminar will consider the affordances of genre for infrastructure and of infrastructure for genre, asking how these structuring forms are being taken up in the environmental humanities.

We seek papers that explore infrastructure's own generic capacities, the ways in which built forms and their materials produce specific generic effects and social uses, or the ways in which infrastructures make generic interpretations available to social practice. In turn we are interested in the way generic properties, such as genre’s compositional dimension (Bakhtin), its historical embeddedness, family resemblances, horizons of expectation (Jauss), affective contracts (Berlant), or its categorizing edges, typical plots, and dominant tropes, shape our encounters with and uses of infrastructure. Can we think of genre as the infrastructure of infrastructure or consider infrastructure as the materialization of generic expectations and perceptions? We hope these questions will ultimately dialogue with the ways in which infrastructure and genre are bound up in environmental and political struggles, such as those for resource access, political visibility and collective action, space to live, aspirations for justice and citizenship, historical change, or imaginings of environmental futures.

Papers may consider genre theory and history generally, particular genres and their capacities, and infrastructures as systems or specific objects.

The session will likely include pre-circulated papers or a roundtable. We will stress lively discussion and conversation over traditional presentations. Please send abstracts of 300 words and a brief biography to Rebecca S. Oh (rsoh@illinois.edu) by 5 February, 2022.