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Working with Nature Symposium CFP

2014 December 12
by scubitt

10 April, 2015
Massey University, Manawatu Campus
Palmerston North, Aotearoa-New Zealand

Keynote: Sean Cubitt (Goldsmiths College, University of London)

Nature is one of those ever-present yet somewhat uncomfortable words that structure our everyday lives. In the twenty-first century it is becoming increasingly apparent that whether we consciously address it or not, human cultures and societies are entangled with nature and vice versa. Entanglement is a useful concept here, insofar as unlike terms such as interconnection, it suggests that these terms cannot be considered in isolation from one another. Recognition of this state of affairs has given rise to a new language of the Anthropocene: a new era of history that recognises the ability of humans to intervene and alter the non-human world. However, even as recognition of climate change and man-made extinction become commonplace, and concepts such as sustainability and resilience enter into the conversations of state and corporate actors, it remains unclear how those ideas might speak to our everyday practices and behaviour.

In this symposium, we seek to explore what it might mean to conceive of this environmental entanglement in terms of ‘working with nature.’ Are there more or less preferable ways of working with nature? What forms might this work take and how do we distinguish between them? Is the idea of ‘nature’ even sufficient to approach such questions, or do we need to reconsider such a question in terms of environments, ecologies or the broad notion of the non-human world? With a mind to bringing together a range of contributors and stake-holders from across the tertiary sector and the wider community, this symposium seeks to examine  how such questions might help us understand and assess the different ways in which humans transform, engage and interact with the nonhuman world.

On a global scale, we are witnessing an increasing concern with the different ways in which human behaviour works to shape nature. From climate change to drives towards sustainable communities and ongoing concerns with waste and pollution, the interaction between human and non-human worlds looks set to be a central concern of the twenty-first century. Such concerns have particular resonance in Aotearoa-New Zealand, where there is a long history of direct and directed human interaction with nature: from the introduction of flora and fauna by European colonists, to contemporary efforts to conserve and re-establish threatened ecosystems and, just as importantly, to the role of farming and other primary industries as cornerstones of the national economy and culture.

We welcome submissions that engage with human-non-human interactions in any number of theoretical, scientific, ecological, sociological, anthropological, textual, historical, political, ethical, or other methods. We would especially like to encourage submissions from artists and activists whose practices converge with notions of the environment and nature. Areas of inquiry for submissions may include, but are not limited to, the following topics and questions:

·         Different disciplinary approaches to working with nature
·         How might different human-nature interactions (agriculture, environmentalism, leisure, pollution) be conceived as ‘working with nature’?
·         What are the possibilities and problems of conceiving of nature as something to be worked with, on and around?
·         Existing and potential frameworks for assessing the desirability of different ways of working with nature
·         What does it mean to engage with nature in the specific context of the Anthropocene?
·         How might artistic or expressive practice contribution to a re-imagining of the complexity of entanglements with nature?
·         How might different forms of ecology (Cultural, Social, Deep, etc.) inform our entanglement with nature?
·         Environmental and/or Ecological Activism as forms of entanglement.
·         Working with nature in indigenous, post-colonial and anti-colonial contents

The Working with Nature Symposium will take place on 10th April 2015 (with the potential to extend the event to include 11th April, dependant on interest) and is sponsored by the Massey University W. H. Oliver Humanities Research Academy and the Massey University School of English and Media Studies.

Abstracts for academic papers, creative proposals and experiential presentations are invited from scholars, artists, activists and scientists. If you are interested in presenting at the symposium, please send a 400 word abstract with contact and institutional affiliation information to by February 10 2015. Any other enquires regarding the event should also be addressed to

Organisers: Sy Taffel, Nicholas Holm.

Director Kathryn Bigelo’s ‘Last Days of Ivory’ PSA

2014 December 10
by Steve Rust

Director Kathryn Bigelo has just released a new public service announcement, Last Days of Ivory, to raise awareness about the recent uptick in elephant poaching and the connections between the ivory trade and links to terrorism.

You can watch the video below and click here for a link to’s coverage of the video’s release.



New Look for

2014 December 6
by Steve Rust

The Association for the Study of Literature and Environment has updated its website. Another reminder of how important visual aesthetics are to the study of environmental issues in the humanities and to growing the field.

Check out the wonderful new site at:


The Newsroom takes on Climate Change

2014 December 1
by Steve Rust

TV dramas rarely tackle heady environmental issues like climate change but that is not the case when it comes to producer Aaron Sorkin’s The Newroom. Recent episodes have featured a subplot focuses around a disgruntled EPA administrator who feels the government and public are not prepared for the dire consequences our past inaction to deal with carbon emissions.

Check out this short video clip and then read James West’s article for Mother Jones fact-checking The Newsroom‘s blend of fact and exaggeration.

Games as Ecomedia CFP for ASLE 2015

2014 November 21
tags: , ,
by Alenda Chang

The deadline for proposals is fast approaching, but I’m still hoping to assemble a fun and thought-provoking games panel at next year’s ASLE in Idaho. All approaches are welcome!

Of Dungeon Crawls and Chthonic Uprisings: Unearthing the Ecological Subtexts of Games

In Last Child in the Woods (2005), Richard Louv argues that “Nature—the sublime, the harsh, and the beautiful—offers something that the street or gated community or computer game cannot.” Yet in the last case, at least, history and media scholarship offer contrary views. Henry Jenkins has celebrated games’ capacity for spatially oriented “environmental storytelling,” while game history is studded with obvious and not-so-obvious examples of environmental gameplay, from Colossal Cave Adventure and SimEarth: The Living Planet to recent, open-world games like MineCraft and Dwarf Fortress. This panel invites diverse ecocritical perspectives on computer/video games and related virtual worlds, and in keeping with the conference’s “underground” theme, potential topics could include the following:

  • Games and place (local/regional games, mapping and topography)
  • The logic of the dungeon crawl/clear
  • Permadeath games, apocalypse, and “dark ecology”
  • Games’ extraction and resource-management mechanics
  • Games/gamers as subcultural versus mainstream (e.g. Gamergate and cultures of online anonymity)
  • Ethical/environmental issues with sourcing for game hardware and industry labor practices
  • Genre case studies, e.g. of farm/gardening games, zombie or contagion narratives, etc.
  • Alternate-reality games and their “rabbit holes”
  • Games and animal studies
  • Game cheating and failure

Possible games: Minecraft, Diablo, Colossal Cave Adventure, Dwarf Fortress, Metroid, Dig Dug, Fallen London, Bioshock, Shelter, Dragon Age, Waking Mars, Limbo, etc.

Please send abstracts of approximately 250-300 words and brief bios to Alenda Chang at by December 1.

Virunga Doc Now Available on Netflix

2014 November 20
by Steve Rust


In what has become the new normal in today’s global mediascape, the documentary film Virunga has been release simultaneously in theaters and on the streaming site Netflix. The deal to make the film available for streaming was brokered with Netflix by Leonardo DiCaprio through his production company, Appian Way Productions.

Written and directed by Orlando von Einseidel, Virunga follows a group of national park rangers who risk life and limb to protect the last of the world’s mountain gorillas as civil war and the battle over the Congo’s natural resources rages around them.

The film is expected to garner multiple award nominations.

Panel CFP: Ecomedia and Scale (FSAC Conference)

2014 November 6
by Steve Rust

Call for Abstracts: “Ecomedia and Scale” Pre-Constituted Panel

FSAC Annual Conference, June 2-4, 2015, University of Ottawa

 As the sub-field of ecocinema studies continues to expand and wrestle with evolving issues of representation, industrial production and consumption, and ecophilosophy, in this panel we wish to consider how issues of scale come into play. While scholars continue to debate the appropriateness of the term ‘anthropocene’ in defining humanity’s impact on our planet’s ecosystems in our current epoch, we propose a need to think as well about temporal and spatial scales exceeding the human. Timothy Morton’s notion of hyberobjects—things so massively distributed in time and space that humanity is dwarfed in comparison—is one such way that we can begin conceptualizing scale and its impacts on human politics and ecology. At the same time, scholars like Ursula Heise have attempted to negotiate spatial scales of the global and the local within ecocriticism, to draw attention to how both global circulation and the particularities of local or regional environments shape ecomedia. These are suggested entry points into the topic and we encourage a wide range of perspectives.

This panel is therefore seeking abstracts dedicated to issues of scale (temporal, spatial, etc.) in the study of ecomedia (films, games, web-based media, television, etc.). We welcome papers addressing questions of representation within ecomedia, as well as the production, reception, circulation, and preservation or disposal of media. Critical engagements with how scale is interrogated in ecocriticism and the environmental humanities, posthuman theory, ecofeminism, and related theoretical frameworks will also be considered.

Submissions to our pre-constituted panel are due on November 20th, 2014. Please send an abstract (max 300 words), a title, and brief bio to rachel.jekanowski@concordia.caor We will be in touch by the 25th to let you know if your paper has been accepted. Submissions are welcome in either French or English.

Please direct questions about the panel and abstracts to either of the email addresses above.

Stephanie Lam

Doctoral Candidate, Film & Visual Studies

Harvard University

Rachel Webb Jekanowski

Film & Moving Image Studies Doctoral Program

Concordia University

Panel CFP: Asian Ecocinema & Media (ASLE 2015)

2014 November 5
by Steve Rust

CFP: Panel on “Asian Ecocinema & media: Notes from Underground”, ASLE 2015 (June 23-25, Moscow, Idaho)
Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE)’s 11th Biennial Conference will take place June 23-27, 2015 at University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho. Keynote speakers include Linda Hogan, Stephanie LeMenager, Jorge Navarro, Anna Tsing, and Donna Haraway.

With a growing awareness of global environmental issues, and an attempt to address the growing interest in films and media in relation to various ecocritical theories, this panel invites papers that fall within the study of media and films in Asia in relation to ecological and environmental issues. It seeks to expand the field of ecocinema/eco-visual media studies towards a broader coverage in Asian contexts.

Papers that address the conference theme, “Notes from Underground: The Depths of Environmental Arts, Culture and Justice” will be of particular interest. Participants are encouraged to interpret the conference theme as broadly as possible. From the depictions of Asian environmental crises (e.g. The Impossible, Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain), representations of ruinous environments shaped by urban developments and post-disaster reconstructions (e.g. Still Life, 3.11 Surviving Japan), horror or artistic depictions of the dark side of nature (Dark Water, Uncle Bonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives), to social media coverage of pollution problems in Asian cities, ecological and environmental issues in Asia have increasingly been exposed to the outside world through fictional films, documentaries and various forms of media.

Possible themes may include, but not limited to:
Waste, toxicity, refuse and pollutions
Underground aesthetics in ecocinema
Underground, independent cinema in Asia
Eco-degradation and human (moral) degradation
Eco-materialism/ New Materialisms in film/media
Specific environmental issues in Asia
Defining Asian ecocinema/ eco-film criticism
Asian eco-religio-philosophical thoughts in films
Green movements and social media in Asia
Animal studies, animality, ecojustice
Climatic changes, natural disasters in film
Other related topics

You are invited to submit a 300 word abstract, a brief bio, or any question to
Kiu-wai Chu at Deadline for proposal submission is
November 30, 2014. For further information about the conference
please refer to the following link:

Kiu-wai Chu
Department of Comparative Literature,
University of Hong Kong,
Hong Kong