Nature and Morality: (Non)Human Sexuality in Science and Literature

Joela Jacobs's picture

Recent work in the history and philosophy of science has focused on the moral authority of nature (Against Nature, Lorraine Daston, 2019; The Moral Authority of Nature, eds. Loraine Daston & Fernando Vidal, 2003), while feminist and queer studies have explored the relationship between sex(uality) and nature (The Natural History of Sexuality in Early America, Greta LaFleur, 2018; Anthropocene Feminism, ed. Richard Grusin, 2017; Queer Ecology, eds. Catriona Sandilands & Bruce Erickson, 2010; Nature's Body: Gender in the Making of Modern Science, Londa Schiebinger, 2003). In this seminar, we aim to bring together these separate discussions to investigate the ways in which literature explores concepts of sexual morality with reference to the natural and (non)human world. Is nature the model for perfect morality? Is it an abject and taboo force that needs to be tamed by human intervention? Or can we ‘queer’ thinking about moral natures by finding different ways for sexual morality to relate to nature and the non-human world? We are particularly interested in exploring how different parts of nature – non-humans animals, plants, minerals, elements like water – are mobilized to inform concepts of sexual morality. This seminar also inquires how reference to morality and nature highlights the intersections of sex, gender and sexuality with race, whiteness, and indigeneity. In order to answer these questions and prompts, this seminar aims to bring together papers focusing on different literary traditions across historical periods.

Interested participants are welcome to email the seminar co-organizers Joela Jacobs (joelajacobs@email.arizona.edu), Ina Linge (K.Linge@exeter.ac.uk), and Katharine Mershon (mershok@whitman.edu) with questions. All participants will need to submit their abstracts to the ACLA website (http://www.acla.org/annual-meeting) between August 31 and September 23, 2019.

See the seminar and more conference information here: https://www.acla.org/nature-and-morality-nonhuman-sexuality-science-and-literature