History and the Time of Speculative Ecology

Kurt Cavender's picture
Type: 
Call for Papers
Date: 
September 23, 2019
Location: 
Illinois, United States
Subject Fields: 
Environmental History / Studies, Humanities, Literature, Philosophy, Popular Culture Studies

A decade ago, Dipesh Chakrabarty declared in “The Climate of History: Four Theses” that understanding climate change required a transformation in our concept of history. This ACLA 2020 seminar poses history as a limit-problem for contemporary literary and critical responses to climate change. How do existing responses, in light of their various theoretical provenances, contend with a phenomenon whose nature is diachronically outside an anthropocentric critical framework and irreducible to the terms and temporalities of human history, economics, and social structuration?

Under the heading “speculative ecology,” our panel aims to bring together literary, theoretical, and historical responses to the ecological crisis of our time. We welcome papers that consider the historical stakes of “speculative” responses (drawing on the work of Graham Harman and Quentin Meillassoux, for example) that do not take the human as the primary subject or object of knowledge but instead attempt to consider historical or ecological problems in “absolute” terms. Some further questions for consideration might be:

  • What kinds of histories does speculative realism write, produce, or give rise to? 

  • What conditions, literary or otherwise, would a properly speculative historiography have to meet?

  • How do object oriented philosophies, anthropocene/capitalocene/chthulucene theories, conceptions of “deep time” and “big history,” as well as speculative fiction, and other literary or critical theoretical engagements with the non-human deploy and/or engage with history and historiography? 

  • “History” is not just a social science, it is also a rhetorical fact. What points of contact—with regards to history, ecology, and speculation—might we find and mine between object oriented or speculative realist and deconstructive or post-structural critiques of concepts such as history, ecology, and the human?

Please submit 500-word proposals through the ACLA conference portal by September 23. Contact organizers Matthias Rudolf (mrudolf@salemstate.edu) or Kurt Cavender (cavender@kutztown.edu) with any questions.

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