FINAL CALL FOR CHAPTER PROPOSALS - Apocalyptic Ecolinguistics: Language, Landscape, and Ecoanxiety in the Age of Climate Crisis

deadline for submissions: 
June 30, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Editors: Emil Tangham Hazelhurst & Declan Lloyd, Lancaster University

Apocalyptic Ecolinguistics: Language, Landscape, and Ecoanxiety in the Age of Climate Crisis

(For submission to Bloomsbury’s “Advances in Ecolinguistics” series: see https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/series/bloomsbury-advances-in-ecolinguistics/ )

Einar Haugen is widely regarded as the first thinker to have utilised the term “ecolinguistics” in 1972, which he described as “the study of interactions between any given language and its environment” (1972/2001, 352).[1] Later, in “New Ways of Meaning”, Michael Halliday proposed a radical thesis as to the integral role played by linguists when it comes to addressing the ever-escalating severity of human impact on the climate, how in the same way that “we could perhaps radicalize the semantic domain of ‘production’”, there was also the potential “means of self-destruction by division among ourselves… and the rest of creation” (Halliday 1990, 197, 198). The text proposed that the role of the linguist was not one of simple passivity and reflection, but one of activism and resistance: “ideologies are constructed in language… destruction of species, pollution and the like - are not just problems for the biologists and physicists. They are problems for the applied linguistic community as well” (Halliday 1990, 198-199). Halliday’s text is inundated with apocalyptic undertones, with references to “catastrophic contexts” and warnings of how “a deeper crisis is at hand, no less than the threatened destruction of the entire planet as a habitable environment” (Halliday 1990, 191, 194, 197; our emphasis).

In an age of seemingly ever pervasive rhetoric of impending environmental doom, as well as unprecedented levels of “eco-anxiety” (Coffey et al., 2021), particularly in younger generations (Whitlock, 2023)[2], it seems that Halliday’s stark warning is proving more prescient than ever before. Since Halliday’s rallying call, the field of ecolinguistics has continued to develop rapidly and extend across disciplines, prompting a diversification of approaches and domains of application (Poole, 2022). Arran Stibbe’s more recent influential work suggests that ecolinguistics is above all “about critiquing forms of language that contribute to ecological destruction, and aiding in the search for new forms of language that inspire people to protect the natural world” (Stibbe 2015, 1). The field is clearly rooted in an apocalyptic awareness, and the threat of a looming end is in many ways the stimulus. Since its inception, ecolinguistics has been uniquely situated in a position of linguistic activism.

This edited collection brings together the work of academics particularly interested in the function of language in an era of climate disaster, bridging multiple domains and disciplines. The relation between cognition, language, and notions such as linguistic relativity (Sapir, 1929; Whorf, 1940) become particularly consequential in the context of writing on environmental crisis. In the current era of rapid environmental change, understanding the intricacies of how language is used, whether to inform, persuade, or (de)legitimise claims, is a fundamental requirement in the pursuit of societal change and the development of ecoliteracy. In light of the above, we invite short abstracts of approximately 500 words for potential chapters.

Chapters may explore, but are not limited to, the following themes:

  • Apocalyptic uses of language in contemporary mass-media discourses
  • Corpus linguistic approaches to language in the age of climate crisis
  • Apocalypse and activism: voices of resistance, protest speech, and the language of activism
  • The “Hellish Future”: mass media metaphors and the language of climate disaster
  • The rhetoric of “greenwashing”: climate conscious industry messages
  • The language of coping mechanisms: climate anxiety, exploring green spaces, and psychotherapy
  • Linguistic approaches to literary texts exploring climate anxiety, apocalypticism, and ecocatastrophe; from speculative fiction/dystopia to climate fiction
  • Religious discourses and ecological apocalypse
  • The political “will to act”: the language of international climate summits and warnings of environmental disruption
  • “Our burning world”: metaphors of heat, global warming, and the language of cataclysm
  • Linguistic approaches to ecological crises in nature writing
  • Environmental awareness and linguistic diversity: the role of language in promoting climate literacy
  • Postcolonial approaches to ecological crisis: global ecologies and cultural extinction
  • Oral history, indigenous cultures and the apocalyptic loss of languages

The editors welcome contributions from scholars of all relevant disciplines, including those related to Linguistics, Language and Literature, Ecology, Environmental Humanities, Sustainability, Climate Science, and Ecocriticism. Whilst ecological apocalypse features heavily in the writings of many prominent theorists of ecolinguistics, this is the first edited collection to focus solely on the intersection between ecolinguistics and apocalyptic themes.

Keywords: eco-anxiety, eco-grief, climate doom, ecolinguistics, ecology, apocalypticism, activism, sustainability

Deadline for chapter proposals: 30/06/2024

Please send your chapter proposals of up to 500 words and your author biographies (up to 100 words per author) to Emil Tangham Hazelhurst (e.tangham2@lancaster.ac.uk) and Declan Lloyd (d.lloyd2@lancaster.ac.uk).

Please note, we can only accept chapters from contributors who currently hold a PhD, or are in the closing stages (and have a relevant publishing record).

 

References

  • Coffey, Y., Bhullar, N., Durkin, J., Islam, M. S., & Usher, K. (2021). Understanding eco-anxiety:    A systematic scoping review of current literature and identified knowledge gaps. The Journal of Climate Change and Health, 3, 100047.             https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joclim.2021.100047
  • Halliday, M. A. K. (1990) New ways of meaning: the challenge to applied linguistics. In  A. Fill & P. Mühlhäusler (Eds.), The ecolinguistics reader: Language, ecology and environment (pp. 175–202). Continuum.
  • Haugen, E. (1972/2001). The ecology of language. In A. Fill & P. Mühlhäusler (Eds.), The ecolinguistics reader: Language, ecology and environment (pp. 57–66). Continuum. (Reprinted from The ecology of language: Essays by Einar Haugen, pp. 325–329, by E. Haugen, 1972, Stanford University Press.)
  • Poole, R. K. (2022). Corpus-Assisted Ecolinguistics. https://doi.org/10.5040/9781350138582
  • Stibbe, A. (2015). Ecolinguistics: language, ecology and the stories we live by. https://ci.nii.ac.jp/ncid/BC05506708
  • Whitlock, J. (2023). Climate change anxiety in young people. Nature Mental Health, 1(5), 297–298. https://doi.org/10.1038/s44220-023-00059-3

 




[1] While Haugen’s original text was more focused the connection between cognition, language, and multi-lingual communities, the field has subsequently expanded to encompass environmental issues, and ecology more broadly.

[2] Andrew Gregory, “‘Eco-anxiety’: fear of environmental doom weighs on young people”. 6/10/2021, The Guardian.