MLA 2024 | Promises and Limitations of Entangled Thinking in the Environmental Humanities

deadline for submissions: 
March 24, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Sean Collins | Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (ASLE)e ENvir
contact email: 

The Promises and Limitations of Entangled Thinking in the Environmental Humanities


MLA 2024 (Jan. 4-7)

Philadelphia, PA


Panel Organizer

Sean Collins | University of Utah |


Deadline for Abstracts

Please email 350-word abstracts and CV by March 24th



Entanglement—and related concepts like networks, enmeshment, imbrication, and relationality—is central to EH scholarship. At the core of these concepts is the notion of a relational ontology that does not clearly delineate between humans/nonhumans, self/other, and nature/culture. Instead, EH scholars often assert that these categories “intra-act” (Barad) and are connected in “trans-corporeal” (Alaimo), “tentacular” (Haraway), and “withdrawn” (Morton) ways. As Elizabeth Povinelli points out in Between Gaia and Ground, this line of critical theory emphasizes that “subjects and objects are the more or less dense regions created by intersecting and materializing forces that knot matter together such that everything is at once inside and outside itself, here-ish or there-ish, now-ish and then-ish” (17). Lawrence Buell, in Prismatic Ecology, further asserts that theories of entanglement/relation are “a new kind of ecological holism, a post-humanist one, one that grants culture to nonhumans even as it insists that humanness including human ‘culture’ is embedded in ecological process…[it is a] revisionist ontology” (xi).


But what are the political affordances and limitations of the "entangled" environmental imaginary? How can literature help us to recognize and navigate the political challenges of ecological thinking? How do/should theories of entanglement engage with decolonial, indigenous, and non-Western ways of knowing? How is (or isn’t) the entangled imaginary engaged with the troubling but prominent histories of racism, colonialism, heteronormativity, and patriarchy in environmental thought? More broadly, is the ontological a legitimate foundation for environmental politics—and if not, what needs to replace it?


Submissions are welcome, but not limited, to addressing topics such as:


  • Entanglement as a foundation for political action
  • Literature and entanglement
  • Non-western theories of entanglement
  • Decolonial theories of entanglement
  • Queer theories of entanglement
  • Historical approaches to entanglement
  • The politics of Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO), Vital Materialism, Actor-Network Theory (ANT), affect theory, and material ecocriticism
  • The relationship between entanglement and settler colonialism
  • The relationship between entanglement and ecofascism
  • The relationship between entanglement and ecoterrorism
  • Anthropocene (and alternatives like Chthulucene, Capitolocene, Plantationocene) ethics and politics
  • Future directions for the “entangled” environmental imaginary