Call for Submissions – Emotional Ecologies

Jessica  DeWitt's picture

Emotional Ecologies: Where We’re Going and Where We’ve Been

A Network in Canadian History and Environment (NiCHE) Series

Proposal Deadline: February 28, 2023

Series Publication: June 2023


How has environment shaped emotion? 

How has emotion been mobilized to shape environments? 

What role does emotion have in connecting us to our environment? 

In what ways does emotion shape interspecies relationships?

When Professor Elizabeth Wilson presented an appraisal of Silvan Tomkins’s work on affect theory to a department of psychology, a member of the audience “expostulated, ‘Yes. But you can’t study shame in a rat!” Yet, for many of us, questioning whether animals have feelings and complex inner worlds seems outdated, problematic, and deeply colonial. Even modern animal welfare groups, such as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, have historically urged that people should see animals as beings with “feelings, hopes, fears and wants like ourselves.” Recent scholarship exploring historical relationships between environments, the more-than-human world, and affect has demonstrated the interconnected, entangled, and embodied nature of such relationships. Environmental historians have not widely taken the “affective turn” to make emotions a central category of analysis. But scholarship bringing together ecocriticism, environmental history, and the history of emotions is on the rise. Scholarship exploring emotional ecologies, which situates emotions in a web of relations with other creatures and things, offers opportunities to consider the affective texture of where the living planet is headed and where it has been.

Following Grace Moore’s observation that “[…] there is still a great deal of work to be done to connect the history of emotions to environmental history,” we aim to explore these connections and to make space for imagining emotional ecologies supporting sustainable futures. 

NiCHE invites proposals for a special series on Emotional Ecologies: Where We’re Going and Where We’ve Been that explores the history of emotions and emotional futurity from an ecocritical and intersectional view. This issue will be edited by environmental historian Dr. Jessica DeWitt and York University doctoral candidate, emotions historian, and interdisciplinary gender studies scholar Sarah York-Bertram. Some of the questions this series considers include:

  • In what ways do emotions and environments intersect and how are they entangled? How has emotion mobilized to shape or respond to environments and environmental change? Can emotion be understood as an environmental force?
  • How have human feelings about environments and animals changed or continued over time? What do place-based, migratory, and/or comparative approaches to emotional ecologies reveal?
  • How can more-than-human beings’ feelings be centered or, at the very least, included in explorations of emotional ecologies? What does ecocriticism, environmental history, and the history of emotion offer when exploring more-than-human’s feelings and experiences? 
  • What do environmental history and the history of emotion offer when exploring emotional ecologies and futurity? How do we imagine the more-than-human world and the living planet will feel in the future? How do we cultivate sustainable and thriving emotional ecologies?

We invite proposals for:

  • Blog posts (800-1200 words)
  • Poetry
  • Creative nonfiction
  • Creative fiction
  • Photo essays 
  • Video essays 
  • Audio content 
  • Digital and multimedia art

Possible topics include but are not limited to emotional ecologies and:

  • Histories
  • The more-than-human world/experiences
  • Human and non-human relations
  • Environment
  • Place
  • Migration
  • Embodiments
  • Futurity
  • Ecocriticism
  • Environmental Justice

Submit a 250 word proposal describing your proposed submission and its contribution to the field of environmental history/studies more broadly, as well as a short bio using THIS GOOGLE FORM by February 28, 2023.

Applicants will be alerted of their submission status by March 15, 2023. Please email Jessica DeWitt, jessicamariedewitt [at] gmail dot com, with any questions or other inquiries.

NiCHE offers $100 CAD honoraria to contributors without adequate or consistent access to institutional support. Learn more about our honoraria policy here