Call for Book Chapters: The Old Green New Deal: Environment and Social Justice in U.S. Literary Culture

Steven Rosendale's picture
Call for Publications
December 31, 2019
Arizona, United States
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, Environmental History / Studies, Humanities, Literature



The Old Green New Deal:  Social Justice and Environment in U.S. Literature and Culture

in the Lexington Books series: Environment and Society (series ed. Douglas Vakoch)

Editor: Steven Rosendale (Northern Arizona University)


While the separate literary histories of the political left and of environmental movements in the United States have been well studied, the question of how US writers have conceived of the interrelation of environmental and social-justice issues has received less attention.  The goal of The Old New Green Deal:  Social Justice and Environment in U.S. Literature and Culture is to examine how this nexus of environmental and social concerns has been understood and addressed, for better or worse, in U.S. literary culture. 


The push for large modifications of the U.S. economy for environmental reasons has recently gained significant support for the first time in U.S. history.  HR 109 (colloquially known as the “Green New Deal”), which has the support of over 90 federal legislators, is the first major proposal to place environmental issues at the root of federal political decision making, including a proposal to benchmark the economy to scientific standards on greenhouse emissions rather than market standards alone.


HR 109 is also notable for its unprecedented emphasis on placing environmental crisis in the context of an unusually wide range of social-justice concerns.  In addition to climate change, the resolution makes note of a variety of “related crises” and calls for the federal creation of high-wage “green” jobs, a transition to an environmentally-sustainable national infrastructure, and finally, the promotion of “justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth.” 


HR 109 heralds a new level of interest in this synthesis of environmental and social-justice politics in the U.S. that is likely to occupy a significant place in American politics for some time to come. While national legislative attention to this synthesis is new, the connections between the treatment of the environment and the treatment of workers, women, and people of color have inevitably been pondered by writers in both environmental and left-political literary cultures.  The purpose of The Old Green New Deal is to explore this history and its potential as a resource for scholars and citizens as they consider how this array of environmental and social issues can be effectively theorized and addressed.  Are there cultural precedents of “green-left” thought (or opposition to it) that might serve as an intellectual or cultural resource – positive or cautionary – for those interested in assessing the potential of the Green New Deal?


The Old Green New Deal will address this question by offering a collection of essays that explore how the relationship of environmentalism and social justice has been fostered or resisted in U.S. literary culture, broadly conceived.



Potential Topics


 A partial list of potential questions and topics includes:

  • How have U.S. “nature writers,” responsible in part for the emphases of modern-day environmentalism, conceived of the relationship between conservation/preservation of wilderness and the social inequities of their day -- for better or worse?
  • How have U.S. writers on the left conceived of the environmental dimension of social issues, reforms, and revolutions?
  • How did literary naturalists like Sinclair, Dreiser, or London conceive of the red-green synthesis as they pursued their co-terminous investigations of evolutionary-environmental determinism and social injustices?
  • U.S. pastoralisms and social reform (including reconsiderations of Leo Marx, Henry Nash Smith, and other consensus historians)
  • Figures like Granville Hicks, Helen and Scott Nearing, and others whose earlier careers espousing left politics developed later into back-to-the-land environmentalism
  • Cultural history of conservation-minded socialist utopian groups (e.g., the Kaweah Colony)
  • Environmental dimensions of utopian/dystopian fiction in US culture (Gilman, Bellamy, Callenbach, Hicks, etc.)
  • Literatures of Environmental Justice
  • Literatures exploring left-green coalition and examples of left-green coalition efforts (“turtles and teamsters” Seattle protests, etc).
  • Reception of Bookchin and other social-justice environmentalists and ecocritics in America

Chapter proposal submissions are invited from researchers and academics on or before December 31, 2019.

Proposals (1000 words or less) should present the main arguments of the chapter and explain how they fit into the general theme of the volume.  Proposals in Word or PDF formats (Times New Roman, 12, 1.5 spacing) should be sent to  Please include author’s CV.


Authors will be notified about the status of their proposal by January 15, 2020.  Full chapters (roughly 5000 words in length) will be due on May 1, 2020.  Final versions of chapters incorporating suggested edits will be due June 15, 2020.  Chapters must follow Lexington’s production guidelines (, and will be submitted for peer review prior to final acceptance.  Final edits will be due within 2 months of peer review.


Email with any questions or requests for more information.

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