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CFP: Edited Collection on Affective Ecocriticism

2015 October 2
by Shared by Steve Rust

Call for proposals: Affective Ecocriticism

Although ecocritics have long tried to articulate complex emotional relationships to various environments, ecocritical scholarship has much to gain from the rich body of work on affect and emotion circulating within social and cultural theory, geography, psychology, philosophy, queer theory, feminist theory, and neuroscience, among other disciplines. The “affective turn” and concurrent trend toward new materialisms signal an opportune moment to conjoin affect theory and ecocriticism more deliberately. Concepts like Yi-Fu Tuan’s “topophilia,” Lawrence Buell’s “ecoglobalist affects,” and Ursula Heise’s “eco-cosmopolitanism” have helped foreground the affective dimensions of ecological thinking and feeling at various scales. Recent books—including Tonya K. Davidson, Ondine Park, and Rob Shields’ Ecologies of Affect (2011); Karen Thornber’s Ecoambiguity (2012); Adrian Ivakhiv’s Ecologies of the Moving Image (2013); Alexa Weik von Mossner’s Moving Environments (2014); and Heather Houser’s Ecosickness in Contemporary Fiction (2014)—have undertaken more sustained engagements with affect.


This surge of interest in affect marks a growing need for more scholarship at the intersection of affect and ecocriticism. Affect is ecological “by nature,” since it operates at the confluence of texts, environments, and bodies—including nonhuman and inanimate bodies. Affect theory disrupts discrete notions of embodied selfhood as well as static notions of environment and encourages us to trace the trajectories of what Stacy Alaimo has called trans-corporeal encounters that are intricate and dynamic. Likewise, material ecocriticism foregrounds the instability and processive nature of all environments and objects, but (unlike much affect theory) it takes environments seriously, as agents in generating and shaping affect.


This collection imagines a more affective—and perhaps, also, more effective—ecocriticism. We invite essays that work with affect and/or emotion theory in a range of texts (including literature, film, television, and visual art, as well as digital or physical environments) and in any of affect theory’s strands, including the history of emotions; the cultural study of emotions; cognitive and/or neuroscientific understandings of affect; the transmission of affect; and affect theory in a cultural studies vein, often understood (following Gilles Deleuze, Brian Massumi and others) as non-signifying, pre-cognitive bodily feeling. We solicit essays from established or emerging scholars that take up existing threads or investigate new ways that affect theory and ecocriticism connect. Essays might consider, for instance:

•how affective neologisms like Sianne Ngai’s—including “non-cathartic” affects like “stuplimity,” “irritation,” and others—might enrich ecocritical scholarship
•how built structures and natural landscapes might have affective capacities
•how ecocritical attention to the Anthropocene might enrich affect theory, perhaps by identifying emerging affects and/or new ways that affect is transmitted by/within texts that foreground deep time and/or future-oriented narratives
•how affect theory might enhance ecocritical understandings of environmental loss and of the links between emotional investment and political action
•how indigenous scholarship on grief, trauma and other personal or intergenerational affects might enrich and reshape affect theory and/or ecocritical theory
•how affect theory’s roots in feminist and queer theory might connect to similar roots in the environmental humanities
•how theories like Tuan’s topophilia, E.O. Wilson’s biophilia, and Simon Estok’s ecophobia might inform thinking about literatures and cultures of the Anthropocene
•how emotions like anger, fear, grief, nostalgia, and solastalgia might respond to accelerated environmental change and increased numbers of environmental refugees
•how affect theory might enhance ecocritical work on classic nature tropes of the sublime, the pastoral, the frontier, and the wilderness, as well as emergent tropes like the postmodern or toxic sublime and the post-pastoral
•how affect theory might contribute further to scholarship in ecocinema, queer ecology, and the environmental humanities more broadly

Palgrave Macmillan has expressed interest in publishing this collection as part of its new series: “Studies in Affect Theory and Literary Criticism.”


Please email a 500-word abstract and brief biography to Jennifer Ladino by January 1, 2016.

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