NeMLA Roundtable: Ecocriticism in the 21st Century

Orchid Tierney's picture
Call for Papers
September 30, 2017
Pennsylvania, United States
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Environmental History / Studies, Film and Film History, Indigenous Studies, Literature

The proposal H.R. 861, a bill recently introduced to terminate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, prompts us to address the directions of ecocritical discourse in order to attend to the current material-specific, aesthetic, and rhetorical renderings of changing landscapes on a warming planet. What kind of citizenry is possible in environments overflowing with toxic waste? How do fossil fuels shape the imaginaries of urban and rural ecologies? What are the limits and possibilities of forensic and material analyses to shed light on catastrophic degradations of the environment without recuperating or fabricating disgust?

Pittsburgh is built on the top of the Marcellus Shale, the largest natural gas field in the United States. More, a mere two hours away lies Oil City, a one-time thriving hub for the American petroleum industry. The transmutative Pennsylvanian landscape serves to illustrate the possibilities and negations of contemporary environments that are not only marked by the narratives of urban development and reclamation, but also by domestic and global economies, and networked transnational infrastructures. Against this backdrop, this roundtable will bring together writers, artists, and scholars to explore current approaches to understanding risk, loss, security, recovery, and the landscape in film, literature, and new media. Possible topics might include: the poetics of climate change; the petrosublime; waste management and conceptual writing; race, gender, and toxic wastelands; landfills and the pastoral; slow violence and ecocide; counter-forms and manufactured environments; posthumanism and the urban environment; site-specific performance and the processes of disappearance; fracking, risk, recovery, and the idea of ‘home.’

Please submit 300-word abstracts by September 30, 2017 through the NeMLA online submission system at For questions, email Orchid Tierney at orchid@sas.upenn.eduThe roundtable will take place at the NeMLA conference, April 12-15, 2018, in Pittsburgh, PA. 

Contact Email: