Lands of Milk and Honey: Languages of Surplus (and Shortage) in the Natural World
2023 saw a surge of wildflower blooms in an historic superbloom in California following an unusually wet winter after years of extreme drought in the state. On the other end of the spectrum, years of drought, excessive heat, and denser vegetation have made wildfires not only more likely to occur, but to rapidly spread out of control, which led to almost $12 billion in damage across the United States in 2022. In the anthropocene, nature lends itself to narratives of both excess and surplus, but also of extreme deficit, and the language which is used in policy documents, news stories, and fictional narratives provide a space in which both extremes come under a microscope. This panel seeks papers which discuss the ways in which nature, land use and management, and language intersect and create arguments about how we speak about the natural world.
Examples of some topics may include:
- Historical and cultural attitudes towards land as surplus or excessive
- Ways in which language about land permits/provides for overdrawing of natural resources (for example, the idea of “paper water” and the Colorado River)
- Is there a perception of nature as perpetually renewable? How does the description of a resource as “renewable” impact its use among consumers, businesses, or the allocation of that resource by the government?
- Attitudes toward nature and exploitation
- Ecocritical approaches to film and literature
- Images of nature which challenge or confirm our relationships with land and nature
This panel may also continue the conversations begun in the 2023 NeMLA panel, “Natural Spaces and Managed Wilderness: Mediation in National and State Parks,” which discussed the rhetorics of space and usage in parks, as well as the relationships between land, wilderness, and individuals.
This session aims to explore the ways in which nature, land use and management, and language intersect and create arguments about how we speak about, interact with, and make use of the natural world.
Please submit abstracts directly to the NeMLA Portal: