Energy Humanities - PAMLA Special Session

deadline for submissions: 
May 31, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association
contact email: 

Panel for Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association in Portland, OR. October 26 – 29 2023.

Emerging as a rapidly-developing interdisciplinary field, scholarship in the Energy Humanities seeks to engage with how energy shapes cultural and creative practices of society. As scholar Derek Gladwin states in his book Ecological Exile: “The energy humanities offer a framework to discuss alternative energy models, aesthetic ways of presenting energy forms in public, and predicting energy futures” (71). Whether in the form of fascination with electricity in the Romantic period, nuclear hopes and fears extending from the mid-19th century, or engagements with petrocultures in our current fossil fuel era, energy has made an undeniable impact on literature, media, and film. Energy, and all that comes with extractivism, operations, and infrastructure, often blends into the background of our daily experience to go unanalyzed in what Patricia Yaeger calls “the energy unconscious” (309). What can we gain by drawing out the engagements between energy and culture? How are lives determined by energy in the past, present, and the possible future? Why do some cultural traits arise out of some energy systems but not others? To what extent can we use energy to periodize literature, art, technology, and history? How might energy studies engage with other fields of study such as the environmental humanities, postcolonial studies, gender and sexuality studies, animal studies, and others?

This special session panel invites papers that explore any of the myriad ways energy regimes engage with culture. The Energy Humanities are suited for the theme of “Shifting Perspectives” for the 2023 conference, and special consideration will be given to papers that explore the following topics:

Cross-Cultural Depictions of Energy
Energy Futures/ Energy in Science Fiction
Petrofiction and Climate Change
Energy in Popular Culture/ Genre Fiction
Creative/ Critical Representations of Energy and Culture
Changing Meanings of Energy
Energy Aesthetics
Re/definitions of Daily Experiences Involving Energy
Energy and the Classics

Derek Gladwin, Ecological Exile: Spatial Injustice and Environmental Humanities, Routledge, 2018.

Yaeger, Patricia, et al. “Editor’s Column: Literature in the Ages of Wood, Tallow, Coal, Whale Oil, Gasoline, Atomic Power, and Other Energy Sources.” PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, vol. 126, no. 2, 2011, pp. 305-26.


Submit abstracts via PAMLA CFP system. Link to panel: