Culture and the Impending Ecocatastrophe: Narratives of Ecology and Sustainable Futures

Helena Duffy's picture

Your network editor has reposted this from H-Announce. The byline reflects the original authorship.

Call for Papers
October 20, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Environmental History / Studies, Film and Film History, Literature, Fine Arts, Humanities

Nordic Summer University Study Circle ‘Narrative and Violence’ is inviting proposals for presentations for the Summer Session

"Culture and the Impending Ecocatastrophe: Narratives of Ecology and Sustainable Futures"

The University of Turku, Finland, 20th October 2021

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s Summer Session has been exceptionally rescheduled to October and will be held online.

Keynote speaker: Reinhard Hennig, University of Agder (Norway)

“Nostalgia, Ecocatastrophe, or Sustainability? Environmental Storytelling and Ecocritical Theory”

Culture’s interest in nature has a long tradition, as illustrated by the biblical texts, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the ancient Chinese poetry of Li Po, the European pastoral novel and, more recently, eco-dystopian fiction, exemplified by Octavia Butler’s and Margaret Atwood’s prose. However, it is only in response to the impending ecocatastrophe that ecocriticism has emerged as a major field of study. Defined as ‘earth-centred approach’ (Glotfelty and Fromm, 1996), it brings into dialogue cultural and environmental studies, and draw attention to culture’s reciprocal relationship with the natural world. More recently, critics have deconstructed and criticised the human-oriented approach of early ecocriticism, raising the question of nonhuman agency and establishing race and gender as ecological concepts. Moving beyond Western prominence, they have also endeavoured to emphasise the global character of ecological concerns.

The one-day symposium hopes to provide a platform for a discussion of culture’s reciprocal relationship with the natural world, as manifest in recent productions. Presentations given at the symposium might address, although need not be limited to, the following questions:

• How does contemporary culture address the ongoing environmental crisis?

• How does culture itself affect the environment (museums, installations, murals, guided tours, memorial practices etc.)?

• How do cultural texts and practices thematise and critique the culture-nature dichotomy?

• What specific representational strategies are used by writers and artists to draw attention to the two-way relationship between culture and endangered nature?

• What parallels do cultural productions draw between the oppression of human groups and our destruction of the natural environment?

• What impact does the figurative language that draws on the natural world have on our relationship with the environment?

Please send proposals for 15-minute presentations (max. 200 words) with a title and a short biographical note (100 words) to Helena Duffy ( by 15th September 2021.

Contact Info: 

Helena Duffy, University of Turku

Contact Email: