CFP: Storied Matter and Speaking Commodities: New Materialisms and Old Marxisms in Discussion

J. Brandon Pelcher's picture
Call for Papers
Subject Fields: 
Animal Studies, Environmental History / Studies, Humanities, Literature

Panel proposed at the 2023 ASLE + AESS Conference: “Reclaiming the Commons”

July 9-12, 2023 in Portland, Oregon

Since Marx’s Capital, with bolts of fabric and coats, commodity speech was heard. Initially, only the halting speech of use and exchange value was heard, but Duchamp soon recognized involved interrogations, then Wolfgang Haug, Jean Baudrillard, Jacques Derrida, Werner Hamacher, and others heard complex promises and flirtations, in good and bad faith. More recently, such speech has been radically expanded and narrativized into the “storied matter” of ecologically infused “new materialisms” expounded by Jane Bennett, Karan Barad, and Manuel DeLanda, among many others. This panel will explore the problems and possibilities of this meta-rhetorical encounter.

Within the Capitalocene, speaking commodities are storied matter and vice versa. As the borders between commodity capitalism and natural wilderness are exceedingly problematic, if indeed they exist at all, the spoken stories of commodified and commodifiable matter are then the lingua franca of the commons. Better understanding that language, its grammar, and its distributed agency and authorship is required to understand, and in turn reclaim the commons. Ultimately, this panel seeks to work through ways to read and write the stories of elements that constitute the commons and indeed the commons itself.

Themes of inquiry may include, but are not limited to:
• Radically distributed authorship of and within the commons
• Narratives of (rhetorical) intersection between ‘nature’ and ‘commodity’
• Dialects of production, distribution, consumption, disposal, etc.
• Posthumanism(s) and postnature(s) in the Capitalocene commons
• Commodity agency and authorship in ecologically informed Actor-Network Theory
• Concepts and theories of translation between storied matter and commodity speech
• Capitalism as economic, geographic, ecological, and material world-system
• Ecological and commodity fetishism across materialities

Please submit your proposal for a 15-minute presentation (within 300 words) and a brief bio (within 200 words) by 5 December 2022 to be considered for the panel. Submissions and questions can be directed to