Modern Language Association Convention
Toronto, ON, Canada
7 – 10 January 2021
The International Brecht Society invites proposals for the 2021 MLA in Toronto:
Brecht and Ecocriticism / Ecocriticism of Brecht
For someone whose artistic persona, politics, and aesthetic praxis are so inextricably associated with the large metropolitan cityscape, Brecht’s exploration of life in the city is informed by a remarkable affection for nature. This is evident in his myriad nature, animal, and tree poems; his attentiveness to the smallest evidence of enduring natural life even in the most inhospitable concrete spaces; and his sensitivity to the impact of weather and seasonal change on people and their struggles. Brecht’s political and ethical outlook does not pit humans against nature but rather views humans, in their creatureliness and vulnerability, as an integral part and expression of nature. His critique of capitalism thus comprehends environmental degradation and dehumanization as two interlinked devastations of our modern world. This panel explores Brecht’s preoccupation with nature, and we invite in particular two kinds of ecocritical approaches to Brecht. We ask, on the one hand, how an ecocritical analysis enriches our understanding of Brecht’s writings. How have scholars, artists, and critics engaged with and extended Brecht’s works regarding nature, the environment, and interactions between animals, plants, and humans? On the other hand, we propose that Brecht’s distinct approach to nature itself constitutes an ecocritical paradigm. We therefore ask to what extent do Brecht’s writings and theatrical praxis constitute a framework for a demystified and politicized approach to the Anthropocene (and the related topics of nature, animals, the non-human.)? How can we understand and put into action the well-known Brechtian imperative about changing the world and the changeability of the world? We seek papers that can help articulate how Brecht’s works and theories can serve as a methodology of critical inquiry and practical intervention.
Possible topics for Brecht and ecocriticism include but are not limited to:
Brecht’s concept of what it means to be human
Sites of contention and conflict, protest movements, and Brecht’s use value today
The Gestus of environmental activism, protection, and/or decolonialization
De-centering the human and/or the human as the center in Brecht’s work
Dialectics and dialectical approaches to ecocriticism in post-Brechtian “modes”
Destruction, endings, new beginnings as envisioned by Brecht and the Nachgeborenen
Please send by 15 March 2020 a 250-word abstract and brief bio to Elena Pnevmonidou, University of Victoria (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Kristopher Imbrigotta, University of Puget Sound (email@example.com). All panelists must become registered MLA members by 7 April 2020.