CFP: Pathographical Ecopoetics (Edited Volume)

deadline for submissions: 
March 30, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Jayjit Sarkar and Anik Sarkar


Book Title: Pathographical Ecopoetics 

Editors: Jayjit Sarkar & Anik Sarkar

The ‘ailing body’ is a recurring image in contemporary mediascapes which variously represent the human and nonhuman condition in the Anthropocene. Bodies that suffer, that lie tormented, that are ill or in pain, that wither and are abandoned, that have been killed and whose immobile remains haunt the living, have been envisioned across multiple mediums for a number of reasons. Images of tormented bodies, in their entangled tribulations whether they are distressed mentally or physically have an immediate affect on the viewers. Some graphical ones may illuminate a collective suffering, be it about those who are agitating for a political cause— to stop wars, or to declare one; to demonstrate displeasure for a particular law, or their agony for the absence of one. Such depictions aim to influence the way we perceive our current predicament, seeking to disrupt the collective indifference toward the gravity of environmental warnings. The visual as well as textual narratives comprising of ailing bodies may serve as potent reminders for drawing attention to societal and planetary issues, urging audiences to reconsider their stance and take meaningful action in response to these urgent concerns. A pathography, Anne Hunsaker Hawkins writes “is an extended narrative situating the illness within the author’s life and the meaning of that life” (Hawkins 13). What connects a pathography, “a form of autobiography or biography that describes personal experiences of illness treatment, and sometimes death” (Hawkins 13), with the school of ecopoetics is the phenomenon called poiesis: the Greek for the act of coming into being or the act of creation. The word “pathography” comes from the Greek pathos meaning pain and graphia meaning writing, and the word “ecopoetics” comes from the Greek oikos meaning home and poiesis meaning creation. A pathographical narrative is different from the typical pathological reports and medical surveys although, it may be confused for one.

For Hawkins: Pathographies not only articulate the hopes, fears, and anxieties so common to sickness, but they also serve as guidebooks to the medical experience itself, shaping a reader's expectations about the course of an illness and its treatment. Pathographies are a veritable gold mine of patient attitudes and assumptions regarding all aspects of illness. These narratives can be especially useful to physicians at a time when they are given less and less time to get to know their patients but are still expected to be aware of their patients' wishes, needs, and fears. (Hawkins, 1999, 127-129) Away from the “hegemony” of medical records and the disinterested study of the ill, the pathography accounts for the lived experience of the suffering subject. Pathographical ecopoetics, furthers this study by considering the broader framework of intra- and interrelations with the environment that entangle the ill bodies, as and when they are diagnosed, sick, diseased, and ailing. In another sense, pathographical ecopoetics is being-with or creation-with the natural surroundings during illness. It is also different from general autobiography, as it moves away from autopoiesis to what Donna Haraway would call sympoiesis (or “making-with”). Illness becomes a condition for sym-poiesis— the humanist closed self to open itself to the other in order to create or to just be with the surrounding, animate or inanimate alike. Pathography cannot be called as a “medical history”, but an alternate historiography—a personal account of the body in pain, but it is also not “totally” free from medical history (Sarkar and Basu, 2019, xv). Neither is pathography free from its immediate environment in which it is borne and experienced, as the natural world and its mystifying orders of action are difficult to code but are felt and remembered by the body which suffers. We invite papers that explore pathographical accounts which are also respondent with ecopoiesis, exhibiting “creations-with” the natural surroundings during illness.

Some areas that the papers can explore, but not limited to:

Pathographical Ecopoetics and Disabilities Studies

Pathographical Ecopoetics and Filmmaking

Pathographical Ecopoetics and the Modern Novel

Pathographical Ecopoetics and Poetry

Pathographical Ecopoetics and Medical Humanities

Pathographical Ecopoetics and Art

Pathographical Ecopoetics and Autobiography

Pathographical Ecopoetics and Illness Narrative

Pathographical Ecopoetics and Posthumanism

Pathographical Ecopoetics and Zoontologies


If interested, please send a 300-500 word abstract to by March 30, 2024. Selected abstracts will be notified by April 15, 2024. Essays of 5000-6000 words are anticipated by August 30, 2024. The book shall be published by a major international press.

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Recent book by the editors: The Films of Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Liverpool University Press)

Recent paper by the editors: “In Search of a Pathographical Ecopoetics: A Study of Elisabeth Tova Bailey’s The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating” in Journal of Ecohumanism




Haraway, Donna. Staying With the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham: Duke University Press, 2016.

Hawkins, Anne Hunsaker. “Pathography: Patient Narratives of Illness”. The Western Journal of Medicine 171, no. 2, 1999, pp. 127–129.

Hawkins, Anne Hunsaker. Reconstructing Illness: Studies in Pathography. Indiana: Purdue University Press, 1999.

Sarkar, Jayjit and Jagannath Basu eds. The Portrait of an Artist as a Pathographer: On Writing Illnesses and Illness in Writing. Wilmington, DE: Vernon Press, 2021.