Tree Lines: Arboreal Agency in the Creative Arts

deadline for submissions: 
August 11, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Stephen O'Neill, Maynooth University
contact email: 

Book proposal: Edited collection 

Proposed Title: Tree Lines: Arboreal Agency in the Creative Arts

Edited by Dr Stephen O’Neill, Maynooth University, Ireland

Abstracts are invited for chapter proposals for the edited collection, Tree Lines: Arboreal Agency in the Creative Arts.

Description / Rationale:

Trees are generating significant interest in literary and cultural works, their presence no longer backdrop or scene but more-than-human witness, voice, and character. This tree turn is, in part, a consequence of climate change and the Anthropocene, with increased attention to trees’ role as carbon mitigators, but also the contribution of such high-profile novels as Richard Powers’ The Overstory and Elif Shafak’s Island of Missing Trees, as well as developments in critical plant and vegetal studies. But we are still only beginning to understand arboreal lives. Tree Lines aims to build on current research by asking how we can identify and represent trees in non-anthropocentric and non-anthropomorphizing ways. The book’s title is intended to convey lines of bark, thus gesturing towards tree life, as well as the lines of a text, a painting, or the frames on a screen through which we render that life. How do we move towards a language of trees? What critical paradigms and creative responses might now be called for to realize a greater apprehension of arboreal life and alterity? Tree Lines aims to generate interdisciplinary arboreal studies. Drawing together such fields as eco-criticism, film, creative practice, history, geography, and critical plant studies, this collection will examine a broad set of representations and understandings of arboreal lives across historical periods to arrive at critical, creative, and ethical approaches to arboreal ontologies and temporalities.

Abstracts of 350 words (along with four key terms and Works Cited) are invited for chapters that respond to the following research questions: 

  • How do texts (literature, film, media) contribute to and enhance understandings of trees and ‘treeness’?
  • In what ways can literature and culture explore and / or delimit more-than-human tree agency?
  • What value do historical approaches to arboreal practices and cultures, especially indigenous knowledges, bring to more recent developments in tree and critical plant studies?
  • How do we understand and interpret trees as ontology, space, and place, and examine further arboreal politics, considering intersections with gender, class, sexuality, and race?
  • Can the arboreal be a specifically queer space, suggesting historical and forms of queer being and living?
  • What forms, techniques or styles are conducive to the identification of an arboreal aesthetic, or how do we connect the lines of a tree to lines on a page?
  • How do we develop a language of trees within cultural forms that is accessible or that engages humans in new ways?
  • What new or experimental forms might be required for us to be more responsive and / or less appropriative in our encounters with trees?
  • What critical methodologies and creative practices might we deploy to further understanding and appreciation of trees?
  • How can we mobilize interdisciplinary approaches to arrive at new ways of recognizing tree alterity?
  • In what ways can arboreal paradigms and metaphors be renewed - or questioned considering indigenous plant knowledges and deep work on mycorrhizal networks?


If there are any research questions or approaches that you feel are not represented here, please feel free to propose them in your abstract.

Abstracts should indicate the scope and approach the chapter will take and explain how it addresses the overall volume themes.

Please include in one Word doc your Name and affiliation, a short bio (150 words), Title of chapter proposal, abstract, key terms, works cited and send to by Friday 11 August 2023.