Editors Mary Hegedus and Jessica Mulvogue invite book chapter proposals for a scholarly collection entitled Cinematic Ecosystems: Screen Encounters with More-Than-Human Worlds, currently under consideration by Vernon Press.
The current global eco-emergency demands a rethinking and reimagining of environments and human beings’ relationship to and within more-than-human worlds. The subject of the nonhuman has been central to scholarship in the field of ecocinema studies. Anat Pick and Guinevere Narraway’s Screening Nature: Cinema Beyond the Human (2013), Elena Past’s Italian Ecocinema: Beyond the Human (2019), Cajetan Iheka’s African Ecomedia (2021), James Cahill’s Zoological Surrealism: The Nonhuman Cinema of Jean Painlevé (2019), Jennifer Fay’s Inhospitable World: Cinema in the time of the Anthropocene(2018), and Hunter Vaughan’s Hollywood’s Dirtiest Secret: The Hidden Environmental Costs of the Movies (2019) are just a few examples of work that approaches cinema from an ecological perspective to consider how cinema expresses the “interconnectedness of human and other life forms [and] our implication in and filtering through material networks that enable and bind us” (Pick and Narraway 2013: 5).
This book builds on such scholarship but aims to home in on the concept of the ecosystem as a specific, situated biological system - involving interactions between soil, atmosphere, water, and living organisms - that is crucial to understanding and coping in the era of ecological catastrophe. Studies of mycological interrelationships, interspecies kinship, and plant sentience (Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing 2015; Donna Haraway 2006 & 2017; Carla Hustak and Natasha Myers 2012) as well as ecocritiques of cinema itself (Sean Cubitt 2020) reveal the politico-ethical need to recognize the wide and varied scope of interspecies connectivities. Cinema, as a time-based medium, has both a distinctive ability to reveal the world and an imaginative, experimental capacity to create new worlds. Our affective relations with the aesthetic perceptual ecology of screen images (Adrian Ivakhiv 2013) help evolve and deepen our understanding of worlds rich in connection and possibility. Furthermore, our affiliations with these projected ecosystems shape our reality and influence our positions as humans in a more-than-human world (Nicole Seymour 2018).
We aim to bring together explorations of ecosystems across cinema and media genres. Cinematic ecosystems may appear as background in narrative fiction (eg. the Pacific Northwest temperate rainforest in Patricia Rozema’s Into the Forest ); as the central subject of a documentary (eg. Sable Island in Jacqueline Mills’ Geographies of Solitude, 2022); or be the study of a scientific film. They may also be imaginative and speculative, such as the biological interactions in Momoko Seto’s Planet series (2008-17) or speculative futures in Danis Goulet’s Night Raiders (2020).
Cinema, as a material process and object, is also implicated in these ecologies. As such, the collection recognizes the material relationships between cinematic processes and more-than-humans on screen and beyond. We are thus also interested in both case studies of cinematic interference with ecosystems and the ways in which filmmakers and artists work with and alongside biological matter, for instance, in hand-processed or plant-processed experimental cinema.
The question of knowing - as both rational thought and sensory perception - is central to our inquiry: we aim to explore what ecosystems on-screen - real or imagined - may teach us about interrelations with a more-than-human world, about kinship and care, as well as about competition and conflict (as Lorraine Code argues ecosystems are as cruel as they are kind (2006)). To recognize the extent of interrelationships in the more-than-human world is to move beyond human exceptionalism towards potentially more just and sustainable modes of cohabitation with nonhumans. It is also to acknowledge that worlds exist beyond the human that are unreachable and unknowable.
Our guiding questions for this collection are: How do cinema and media work to articulate ecosystems and what are the epistemological, material, and politico-ethical implications of such articulations? And how can cinema and media aid us in coming to know more-than-human worlds and what are the limits of such inquiries?
We are interested in studies of cinematic ecosystems - ie. environments on screen: plants, animals, funga, sealife, microbial life - from a wide variety of media perspectives and issues, including, but not limited to:
● Cli-fi; climate change media
● Feminist and/or Indigenous epistemologies
● BIPOC, Queer, non-binary ecologies
● Orphaned and archival footage
● Media technologies: Drone, micro/macro, time lapse, virtual reality, augmented reality, sound,
● Perceptual experiences of cinematic environments, perceptual ecologies
● Media materialities
● Interspecies kinship / matters of care / posthumanism / relational ethics
● Scientific images: micro/macroscopic, timelapse, geological, biological, zoological, etc.
● Environmental effects of prosperity vs precarity; sacrifice zones
● Anthropomorphic, biomorphic and geomorphic instantiations of worlds
● Anthropocene, Chthulucene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Planthropocene
● Explorations of Uexkull’s Umwelt
We welcome both individual and co-authored pieces for articles of 6000 words. Please submit your 500-word proposal and a short author bio to Mary Hegedus and Jessica Mulvogue via email at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org by June 30th, 2023.
Proposal Deadline: June 30th, 2023
Acceptance/Non-acceptance notice: end of July 2023
Article submission deadline: January 15th, 2024 (articles will undergo peer review)
Editors Mary Hegedus at email@example.com and Jessica Mulvogue at firstname.lastname@example.org