BOTANY, SEXUALITY, (UN)COMMONALITY - Panel proposed at the 2023 ASLE + AESS Conference: “Reclaiming the Commons”

deadline for submissions: 
December 9, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Association for the Study of Literature and Environment - 2023
contact email: 

Panel proposed at the 2023 ASLE + AESS Conference: “Reclaiming the Commons”

July 9-12, 2023 in Portland, Oregon

What are the possibilities—and limitations—of investigating commonalities between the plant and the human for discovering new forms of trans, nonbinary, and genderfluid sexualities? How might the study of vegetal forms of agency trouble the very notion of sexual subjectivity as something that originates inside an individual, rather than its environment? Given the role of botany as both a sexual and colonial science, how do postcolonial authors create new rhetorical relations to plant life to express not only queer sexual identities, but the specificities of postcolonial identity more broadly?

In posing these questions, this panel will investigate the tangled relations between colonial constructions of gender and sexuality, and plant science. We will navigate the tensions between seeking to let plants speak for themselves, and attending to the historical, colonial contexts that inevitably constrain our vocabularies for knowing and talking about both plants and sex. In part we will also ask how multispecies relations—across different biological “kingdoms”—constitute and rearrange our own embodied affects, sensations and experiences, such that they might be construed as phenomena in common more so than individually possessed. Lastly, we hope to investigate how plant-human interspecies relationships help us not only to expand our sense of what is held in common at a basic ontological level, but also to generate sustainable affective and ethical stances in the face of growing climate anxieties.

Other topics might include but aren’t limited to:
• Multimedia approaches to plants and sexuality
• Interdisciplinary inquiry between humanities and plant science
• Food systems and sexual subjectivities
• Postcolonial and Global South expressions of gender, sexuality, and multispecies relation that exceed queer ecologies frameworks
• Speculative fictions
• The impacts of plants and/or environmental crisis on disciplinary debates about theory and method
• How plants reshape the norms of aesthetics and form

Global, decolonial, trans, and/or critical race frameworks are especially encouraged.

Please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words and a short bio (50 words) by December 9, 2022. Questions and submissions can be sent to Austin Lillywhite (