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ASLE 2015 Conference Review Part 2

2015 July 2
by Shared by Steve Rust

This is the second post in a series of three on the 2015 ASLE conference. This post documents our discussion at the second (ever), Ecomedia Interest Group meeting, held Thursday evening June 25 from 5:30-6:30pm.

20 people from a wide variety of universities and departments were present for all or part of the meeting. Not bad considering the rather inconvenient hour of the meeting (pushing into the dinner hour) and the fact that that a number of our peers were draw to other interest groups meeting at the same hour, including the Asian Ecocriticism and Graduate Student groups.

After introductions the group reviewed the status of the 5 action items that came out of the 2013 meeting and then discussed new action items:

Item 1: Outreach to other organizations

Notably, one panel at this year’s ASLE conference, “When the Creature Emerges: Eco-Teaching Speculative Fiction Film” chaired by Bridgette Barclay and Andrew Hageman and featuring Barclay, Hageman, Steve Rust and Tiffany Deater, was sponsored by the Science Fiction Research Association.

Most significantly, many members of the ASLE Ecomedia group are also members of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS), the largest international organization in the field of film and media studies. 2013 saw the start of a Media and the Environment SIG within SCMS which has quickly grown to more than 50 members.  They have held two meetings, at the 2014 and 2015 SCMS conferences. For more information on that group see their group page at the SCMS site and their group Facebook page.

Significant as well was the 2015 Conference on Communication and the Environment held earlier in June in Boulder, CO. Our colleagues in communications, journalism, and the social sciences presented important findings at that conference that will help shape our conversation.  Again this year ASLE sponsored a panel at the conference. The panel was titled “Communicating Crisis in Ecopoetics” and was chaired by Kristin George Bagdanov of Colorado State University and featured the following papers: “The Anthropocenic Crisis in Contemporary Ecopoetics,” Kristin George Bagdanov (Colorado State U.); “Depictions of Environmental Crisis in William Carolos Williams’s Paterson,”Sarah Nolan (U. of Nevada); and “Touch, Not Sight: Touch Perception in Aristotle’s DeAnima and Touch Imagery in Forrest Gander’s Poetry,” Gracie McCarroll (Colorado State U.).

To curate their inaugural ASLE mini film festival, featuring seven Pacific Northwest eco-films, Steve Rust and Salma Monani reached out to several organizations, including the Nez Perce cultural center, the University of Idaho libraries, the imagineNATIVE film festival, and the Nortwest Film Center.


Item 2 – An off-year ASLE on Ecomedia?

Interest remains strong in organizing an off-year ASLE-sponsored symposium on Ecomedia Studies for approximately 100 presenters. We’re still waiting for someone to pick up this ball and run with it.  Planning well ahead for 2018 seems the best choice. Any takers?

In the meantime, Mario Trono invites all of us to Calgary, Alberta for the 2016 “Under Western Skies” Conference. The 2016 conference theme will be Water and film and media scholars are most welcome.


Item 3 -Maintaining Group Communication Hub

Folks are fine with remaining as the central communication hub for the group, supported by the Group Facebook Page, which currently has 240 members. Steve Rust has asked for folks to recommend a graduate student looking for a great CV line to become the resources editor for to maintain and update the bibliography, syllabi, and other resources that are difficult for Steve and Salma to maintain on their own.

A new feature: Forums, has been added to the website to encourage group communication. How useable that feature is remains to be seen.  ASLE would like us to be using the Member Forum on the ASLE website but there is general agreement that this feature has been unused and is generally unappealing.

Steve is hesitant to start a ListServe but believes that a small and manageable list is needed for


Item 4 – Plenary Speakers on Ecomedia at ASLE

Yet again another ASLE has come and gone with a plenary speaker whose work focus primarily on Ecomedia Studies.  Speakers like Stacy Alaimo last year and Stephanie Lemenager this year do work that intersects with ours but there is still a feeling that a plenary speaker from our field would cement our hard earned prominence in the environmental humanities.

Steve was reminded that the Ecomedia Interest group could have sponsored panels at this year’s ASLE conference which he did not realize had been adopted as a policy. Next conference panels can qualify for interest group endorsement.


Item 5 – A Journal?

One of the very first ideas that came out of the 2013 ASLE ecomedia meeting and the 2015 SCMS meeting was discussion of establishing a journal in the field to provide a publication venue and central location for shared conversation in the field.  At this point, we generally agree that the relative size of our field may not yet quite justify a journal but we are definitely moving closer to that point. We’ll need someone in the field who has the financial savvy and institutional support to take on such a venture when the need becomes sharper. Perhaps someone at UCSB?

Lauren Woolbright raised a question about journals and the publication of video-based research, such as video essays and game-based scholarship.  No one in the group had an immediate response for the perfect publication venue but several were suggested, including Resilience, Jump Cut, Critical Ecologies, Electronic Book Reviews, and Ant, Spider, Bee by Alenda Chang and others. Mario suggested In Media Res as a great online publication as well.


New Action Items:

  1. Clarify which panels are specifically ecomedia prior to conferences. For next conference, sponsor panels.
  2. Sarah Crosby suggested we plan a party for the next conference, if not sooner.
  3. Work on communication online and in-between conference years. Suggested options:
  4. improve the current Ecomedia Studies blog site to include resource wiki (Michelle Gibeault generously offered to help with the site); and also a way to provide member profiles; search options. More to come as tech support is difficult on a free site. A new Forums function has been added to the site but needs to be tested. This may be a place to organize reading groups and webinars if the function is use-friendly. Members are invited to send their member profiles to
  5. Create an Academia group page (which can be used as a listserv too? Elena Past generously offered to check into this and it turns out that it is not possible; however folks are encouraged to add the tags Ecomedia Studies or Media and Environment to their profiles)
  6. Continue using FB, but work on linking different social media sites to get all users (Alenda Chang mentioned Twitter).
  7. Members also agreed to be provide recaps on the panels they attended (Carter Soles, Lauren Woolbright, Ryan Eichberger both looked interested). We’re hoping to get these posted on the website over the next couple of weeks.

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