Eco-tastrophes: a Round Table (Kalamazoo Medieval Congress, 2015)
Call for Papers (CFP) Deadline: 10th September 2014
Conference Dates: 14-17 May 2015
In this roundtable (6 speakers) we are interested in examining how medieval ecological catastrophe (eco-tastrophe), real or metaphorical, operates as a trope that is invoked in relation to human cultural change. Greg Garrard observes that 'Apocalyptic rhetoric seems a necessary component of environmental discourse' (Ecocriticism, 113). The roundtable will take this as its starting point to consider the ways in which medieval fears of apocalypse and natural catastrophe operate to mediate medieval culture and its constructed Other, 'Nature.' Floods, harsh winters, famines, plagues, the ruins after the fall of civilization — all are common medieval images of the catastrophic impact of natural change on medieval civilization. Additionally, other human threats to western civilization are metaphorized into natural ones: the first recorded raid of the Vikings on Lindisfarne (Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, 793) is preceded by dire natural phenomena and a famine, while the first incursions of the Mongols into eastern Europe were described as a plague. Whether understood in apocalyptic terms as the wrath of the Divine, or as natural challenges to humanity's Genesis-mandated struggle to domesticate God's creation, the threat of Eco-tastrophe was a powerful rhetorical idea through which medieval culture understood its place in the world.
Sponsored by Oecologies: Inhabiting Premodern Worlds, an interdisciplinary, multi-institutional, and cross-border research community based on the North American Pacific coast. Originally conceived by a coalition of medieval and early modern scholars at the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University, it is developing into a regional scholarly alliance of environmentally-minded interdisciplinary scholars across Canada and the United States.
Please send proposals or queries to Robert Rouse (firstname.lastname@example.org) by September 10th.