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New Book: Green Planets: Ecology and Science Fiction

2014 October 15

Thanks to Andrew Hageman for drawing my attention to this book in a recent review for the journal ISLE. Click here to read Andy’s review of the book. Although most of the book focuses on literature, some of the essays reference or deal directly with media texts.

Green Planets: Ecology and Science Fiction, Edited by Gerry Canavan and Kim Stanley Robinson. Wesleyan University Press

Description from the publisher’s website:

Essays exploring the relationship between environmental disaster and visions of apocalypse through the lens of science fiction

Contemporary visions of the future have been shaped by hopes and fears about the effects of human technology and global capitalism on the natural world. In an era of climate change, mass extinction, and oil shortage, such visions have become increasingly catastrophic, even apocalyptic. Exploring the close relationship between science fiction, ecology, and environmentalism, the essays in Green Planets consider how science fiction writers have been working through this crisis. Beginning with H. G. Wells and passing through major twentieth-century writers like Ursula K. Le Guin, Stanislaw Lem, and Thomas Disch to contemporary authors like Margaret Atwood, China Miéville, and Paolo Bacigalupi—as well as recent blockbuster films like Avatar and District 9—the essays in Green Planets consider the important place for science fiction in a culture that now seems to have a very uncertain future. The book includes an extended interview with Kim Stanley Robinson and an annotated list for further exploration of “ecological SF” and related works of fiction, nonfiction, films, television, comics, children’s cartoons, anime, video games, music, and more.

Contributors include Christina Alt, Brent Bellamy, Sabine Höhler, Adeline Johns-Putra, Melody Jue, Rob Latham, Andrew Milner, Timothy Morton, Eric C. Otto, Michael Page, Christopher Palmer, Gib Prettyman, Elzette Steenkamp, Imre Szeman.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS


“The book posits a fundamental opposition in the genre: the future-technological city (Utopia) versus the pastoral Arcadia: each believing the other one to be the true dystopia. Add to this our ecological crisis, and you have the situation all these SF essays confront in so topical and stimulating a way. This seems to me a truly timely and contemporary, innovative collection, breaking new ground for literature and perhaps for reality as well.”—Fredric Jameson, William A. Lane, Jr., Professor of Comparative Literature, Professor of Romance Studies, Duke University

Green Planets is solid gold in terms of the breadth of the primary and secondary sources treated and the ways that the authors seamlessly intercalate their theoretical starting points and their literary examples.”—Patrick D. Murphy, author of Transversal Ecocritical Praxis

PhD scholarships @ Goldsmiths

2014 October 14
by scubitt

unfortunately only open to UK/EU candidates. We have a strong interest in all aspects of ecomedia studies, and colleagues across the consortium in neighbouring disciplines can also be involved in your studies. Last year the competition was intense (success rate below 8%) so be ready to work hard even on the application.


The Department of Media & Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London is inviting applications for September 2015 entry to our PhD programme.

Goldsmiths is part of a block grant AHRC studentship partnership (with Sussex, Kent, East Anglia, Essex, The Courtauld and the Open University) which means that we will be entering successful applicants to our PhD programmes to a competition for these studentships in the spring of 2015.

The funding has been awarded to CHASE (Consortium for Humanities and the Arts South-East England)‚ a partnership of seven institutions formed to promote excellence in research, postgraduate research training and knowledge exchange in the arts and humanities. Applications will be considered jointly by the partner universities via four panels. Applications will be considered on a competitive basis.

For UK students, these awards cover both fees and maintenance and for EU residents awards are on a fees only basis. The funding will cover, professional development opportunities, including the enhancement of media skills and placements overseas or with prestigious arts organisations.

If you want to be considered for one of these awards, please note that you need to have been accepted onto a PhD programme by 14 January 2015. This means that for September 2015 entry you will need to have made a formal application to the programme by the end of December 2014 and have had initial contact with us to discuss your proposal by early December 2014. (The consortium will run for several years: we are open to discuss entry in subsequent years with potential candidates) For any enquiries to the PhD programme of the Department of Media & Communications, Goldsmiths please contact the PhD admissions tutor, Dr Richard MacDonald (; and to see staff expertise please consult

Topic areas covered in the CHASE consortium include

Digital Arts & Photography History, Theory and Practice
Popular Culture
Cultural Studies (Policy, Arts Management and Creative Industries)
Ethnography and Anthropology
Interpreting and Translation
Journalism and Publishing
Media and communication studies
Installation and Sound Art History, Theory and Practice;
Film-Based and Time-Based History, Theory and Practice
Media: New Media/Web-Based Studies
Media: Film History, Theory and Criticism
Media: Television History, Theory and Criticism
Information and Communications Technologies

The criteria for selecting the scholarship awards are:
– quality of the research proposal
-academic achievement / equivalent professional experience (normally first class honours and a distinction at Masters level)
– excellent references (potential supervisors can provide one but not both)
– demonstrated preparedness for research – including whatever evidence can be provided that they will finish in 3 years
– benefit of the research environment to the candidate’s research (written with the proposed supervisor)

The research proposal should contain the following elements:
o key areas/issues of the project, and why you wish to pursue this research;
o the research problems or questions you intend to address;
o the research context in which those problems or questions are located;
o the particular contribution to knowledge and understanding in this area that you hope to make, explaining why the work is important and noting relevance to non-academic beneficiaries, as appropriate;
o the methods and critical approaches that you plan to use, and the sources, if appropriate;
o how the proposed work relates to what you have studied already;
o any ethical issues relating to the research project including how these will be identified and addressed.
o how the project will develop over the period of the award.
o how the doctoral research relates to your eventual career aims.


CFP: Futures of the Arctic at SASS Conference

2014 October 12
by Steve Rust

Call for Proposals for “Futures of the Arctic” Stream at SASS 2015.

The Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at Ohio State University in collaboration with Scandinavian programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University of Wisconsin-Madison welcomes the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study (SASS) to Columbus, OH for its 105th annual meeting to be held from May 6-9, 2015.

STREAM 3: The Futures of the Arctic

While the Arctic has often been conceptualized as unchanging, pristine and outside of time, it has also been the site of profound aesthetic, political, cultural, policy and environmental utopian and dystopian imaginings of a number of possible future(s). In this stream, contributors will address, whether through aesthetic texts (literature, film, television, digital media, etc.) or through sociological, political or policy perspectives, “The Futures of the Arctic” as it has been both imagined and codified in the past and the present. Examples of this imagining come from a long history and are as diverse as: Medieval imaginary conceptions of the North through Old Norse sagas, and imaginary travel narratives from the Nordic countries; 19th and 20th century accounts of how the inclusion of parts of the Arctic region is central to the cultural and political imaginary of various European and North American nation-states; architect Ralph Erskine’s designs for Arctic living in Sweden and Canada; and the future-oriented policy positions of NGOs, nation-states, corporations and supranational organizations in regards to what the future of the Arctic might and ought to be. This stream seeks to break away from simplistic accounts of the Arctic as unchanging or primordial, seemingly unaffected by human agency on and through its populations and environments, to focus on how its futures have been continuously recast in both utopian and dystopian ways in art, culture, and politics.

Presentations from a wide variety of disciplines, and inter/trans-disciplinary approaches are encouraged. For questions and more information about the stream, please contact Prof. Scott MacKenzie, Department of Film and Media, Queen’s University at Submit all proposals as 300 word abstracts in response to the stream directly to the SASS conference organizers at by November 1, 2014.

CFP: Medical and Health Television

2014 October 3

Critical Studies in Television: The Medical Issue (Summer 2016)


Medical and health programmes have been a broadcasting staple since the early days of television, often providing educational and informative content as well as entertaining audiences. In Britain, this was fulfilled by a mixture of factual and entertainment programming ranging from long running surgery documentary Your Life in Their Hands (BBC, 1958-1964) to serial hospital drama Emergency Ward 10 (ITV, 1957-1967), forerunners of familiar contemporary fly-on-the-wall documentary series, reality shows, dramas and ‘medicated’ soaps.


In what will be the 30th anniversary of the landmark BBC hospital drama Casualty (BBC, 1986-present), this special issue seeks to ‘take the temperature’ of medical television in the twenty-first century. On flagship UK channels BBC1 and Channel 4 healthcare oriented programmes ranging from high-end Sunday night drama Call the Midwife (BBC, 2011-2014) to reality formats One Born Every Minute (Channel 4, 2010-date) and 24 Hours in A&E (Channel 4 2011-date), are routinely the highest rated. Discourses of crisis and controversy surrounding healthcare leading up to the passing of the Health and Social Care Act in the UK, and the implementation of “Obamacare” in the US, have thus been accompanied by an apparent renaissance in medical and healthcare television. And issues, strands and clusters have correspondingly emerged in particular forms, registers and modes with noticeable regularity. We are therefore particularly interested to receive submissions that address:


1) Bio-ethical issues, affective labour and neoliberalism – i.e. issues faced by health workers and carers working in neo-liberal medical/domestic environments, and concerning care of vulnerable groups in society across a wide range of formats, e.g. Getting On (BBC, 2009-12), 23 Week Babies: the Price of Life (BBC, 2011), and in the US context Nurse Jackie (Showtime, 2009-present), Breaking Bad (AMC 2008-2013), Miracle Workers (ABC, 2006), and The Advocate (CBS, in development).


2) Nostalgia – i.e medical dramas set in the past and/or with a nostalgic affective register, e.g. Call the Midwife, Doc Martin (ITV, 2004-present), Breathless (ITV, 2013), The Royal (ITV, 2003-11) and The Indian Doctor (BBC, 2010-present)


3) Documentaries and reality/factual series – especially about the state of a nation’s health or health services, e.g. Keeping Britain Alive (BBC, 2013), 24 Hours in A&E, and US cross channel fundraiser Stand Up to Cancer.


4) Body image TV – i.e. programmes featuring sensational medical and health conditions, e.g. Embarrassing Bodies (Channel 4, 2007-present), Bodyshockers (Channel 4, 2014) or medical makeovers e.g. Extreme Makeover (ABC, 2002-7), Supersize vs. Superskinny (Channel 4, 2008-present)


5) Dedicated healthcare channelse.g. SisterTalk.


6) Celebrity healthcare professionalse.g. Dr Robert Winston, of The Human Body (BBC, 1998) and Child of our Time (BBC, 2000-present), Dr Christian Jesson of Embarrassing Bodies, Supersize vs. Superskinny, Drugs Live (Channel 4, 2012)


We invite 500 word proposals to be submitted to and by 30th November 2014.


Deadline for 6000-8000 word essays (including endnotes) will be September 30th 2015 for publication in Summer 2016.

Living Planet Report and the Urgency of Change

2014 October 2
by Steve Rust

According to a report issued by the World Wildlife Fund, the Earth has lost half of its wild animals since 1970.

The Living Planet Report was produced by the WWF in partnership with the Zoological Society of London, the Global Footprint Network, and the Water Footprint Network.

As stated in an article in The Guardian:

We have lost one half of the animal population and knowing this is driven by human consumption, this is clearly a call to arms and we must act now,” said Mike Barratt, director of science and policy at WWF. He said more of the Earth must be protected from development and deforestation, while food and energy had to be produced sustainably.

The steep decline of animal, fish and bird numbers was calculated by analysing 10,000 different populations, covering 3,000 species in total. This data was then, for the first time, used to create a representative “Living Planet Index” (LPI), reflecting the state of all 45,000 known vertebrates.

read more…

‘Become Ocean’ Honored with Pulitzer for Music

2014 September 29
by Steve Rust

Alaskan composer John Luther Adams has won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in music for his symphonic masterpiece Become Ocean. The committee that awarded the music prize describe the work as “a haunting orchestral work that suggests a relentless tidal surge, evoking thoughts of melting polar ice and rising sea levels.” To listen to excerpts of the symphony and an interview with Adams, check out this interview with National Public Radio reporter Tom Huizenga.

Adams is perhaps best know for Inuksuit, a piece he composed specifically to be played by percussionists in outdoor settings. According to the information accompanying the YouTube promotional video for the piece, the New York Times has described Inkusuit as “the ultimate environmental piece.”

For someone like me, who is used to analyzing somewhat more direct visual representations of ecological issues in film and television texts, it is very encouraging to be able to turn to the work of ecomusicologists. For those interested in pursuing work this field, which “considers musical and sonic issues, both textual and performative, related to ecology and the natural environment” (according to the Grove Dictionary of American Music), be sure to check out the wide range of information, calls for papers, and resources available at, an excellent website moderated by Aaron S. Allen.

Conference CFP: “What Lies Beneath Monster Movies: Exploring Ecohorror Cinema”

2014 September 18
by Carter_Soles

“What Lies Beneath Monster Movies: Exploring Ecohorror Cinema” is a panel proposed for the ASLE Eleventh Biennial Conference, June 23-27, 2015, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID.

Ecohorror reveals our fears about the natural world. In it, animals become monsters; landscapes become nightmares; environmental practices lead to apocalyptic destruction. In this panel, we are interested in exploring cinematic versions of these narratives and the ways in which these films help us grasp our own cultural anxieties, our relationship with particular species and ecosystems, and past and current environmental politics and policies.

Because horror is a genre concerned with dark and often hidden fears and desires, ecohorror provides a promising space for discussion of ideas relevant to this year’s conference theme of the underground. Ecohorror may engage with repressed anxieties about the natural world or environmental issues, resistance to the environmental status quo or to environmental change, or monstrous hybrid species and landscapes.

We are particularly interested in proposed papers about monster movies, but we are open to a range of ideas on ecohorror film.

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to both Christy Tidwell ( and Carter Soles ( by November 1, 2014.

Conference CFP: Climate Change in Culture

2014 September 17

This is a call for papers for the Climate Change in Culture Conference to be hosted by the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, May 28-31, 2015.

As climate change becomes arguably the most pressing issue of our time, with evolving implications for societies in every cultural context, we seek to enhance our understanding of the ways in which culture and climate intersect with and animate one another.  Cultural responses to and representations of climate are particularly compelling at a time when catastrophic weather events are becoming more commonly manifest and are inspiring a wide array of cultural and interpretive responses.  Paying particular attention to the cultural implications of climate and to cultural, political, and societal responses to climate change, this conference explores how humanities-based scholarship can be brought to bear upon the evolving reality of climate change. Conference events include keynote talks given by internationally renowned climate and culture scholars, traditional academic papers and presentations, and a variety of interdisciplinary and multimedia performances.  We thus invite submissions from scholars from across the humanities, broadly defined, who are dealing with any aspect of climate and climate change in a cultural context.

Possible topics, include, but are not limited to:

literary and artistic (visual, filmic, photographic, etc) representations of climate and climate change

social and historical understandings of climate, weather, and the role of human agency;

climate change and ethics

climate change and questions of social justice including the differing questions of climate change posed by identity categories such as gender, race, disability, class, and citizenship

understandings of climate and the environment in antiquity and the classical world

cross-cultural interpretations of, and responses to climate and climate change

the implications of climate change on the production and reception of art, whatever the form

the roles of denial, fear, skepticism and rejection vis a vis climate change

threats to linguistic and cultural communities posed by climate change

teaching climate and climate change in the humanities and social sciences

the evolving place of the environmental humanities in curricular development

islands and their particular vulnerability to climate change, island-based narratives and representations of climate

The conference is hosted by the University of Prince Edward Island, home of the Atlantic Climate Lab and the Institute of Island Studies.  UPEI is situated in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island on the east coast of Canada.   As the capital and principle city of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown is a vibrant cultural destination, home of the world-renowned Confederation Centre of the Arts Performing Arts Centre and birthplace of Canadian confederation.  Prince Edward Island is known for its breathtaking natural beauty and charm, thus making it an especially apt location for a conference on climate change and its human implications.   

Please submit abstracts of 250-300 words to by January 5, 2015.