CFP - edited volume: Unserious Ecocriticism

Jessica Landau's picture
Call for Papers
November 3, 2021
Illinois, United States
Subject Fields: 
Animal Studies, American History / Studies, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Environmental History / Studies, Popular Culture Studies


Call for Papers

Edited Volume


Unserious Ecocriticism: Humor, Wit, Play, and Environmental Destruction in North American Contemporary Art & Visual Culture



  • Maria Lux, Assistant Professor of Art, Whitman College,
  • Jessica Landau, Assistant Instructional Professor, Division of the Humanities & Art History, University of Chicago,


Climate change, biodiversity loss, and habitat destruction are certainly serious issues. Mainstream environmentalism in North America, a continent just beginning to more viscerally feel the effects of the environmental destruction caused by its inhabitants, tends to approach environmental issues through bleak messages of gloom and doom, unquestioned sincerity, and appeals to feelings of fear and hopelessness. But what happens if we attempt to address these challenges with wit, playfulness, and earnest attempts to take the ridiculous seriously? Rather than simply making light of the gravity of environmental destruction, this represents alternative ways of approaching the problems at hand. We suspect that greater change could be possible if ecocritical responses stop taking themselves so seriously, and that art and visual culture are especially well-positioned to do so. Building on the work of Nicole Seymour (Bad Environmentalism, 2018), Ursula K. Heise, and numerous artists, makers, and scholars who have already paved the way for this text, we want to expand the repertoire of examples in art and visual culture that use humor and embrace weirdness. This volume seeks to disrupt traditional forms of ecocriticism that only operate through tragedy and dire warnings, and instead bring together artists, art historians, and other scholars of visual culture who present creative, playful, and downright funny ways to rethink our relationship to the planet through contemporary art and visual culture.


We are currently in conversation with an open-access, peer-reviewed, digital scholarly press for this edited volume that challenges disciplinary silos. With our interests and the press’ specialization in digital content, this volume will be an ideal space for video, audio, and image-heavy pieces far richer than print-only could allow. 


We are looking for a variety of formats, such as 

  • artwork and visual essays, 
  • interviews and conversations, 
  • satirical and comedic writing, 
  • pieces that play with form and content, 
  • graphic storytelling/comics
  • as well as more traditional academic and critical essays. 


We seek proposals for presenting artwork, writing, and non-traditional scholarly forms that both take the silly, ridiculous, and weird seriously, and those that apply humor or playfulness as a methodological approach to topics that have previously only been addressed with seriousness. Artwork or writing may consider, but are certainly not limited to, the following topics:


  • Discussions of “bad” or “lowbrow” popular culture
  • Urban legends or cryptozoological creatures
  • Gallows humor and environmental destruction
  • Parody or satire of “serious” environmentalism
  • Parody or satire of climate change denial or extractive economies
  • Challenges to Euro-American environmentalism or ecocritical approaches from Indigenous epistemologies 
  • Comparative critiques of North American environmental discourses from non-North-American perspectives 
  • Performance, drag, and/or cosplay
  • Speculative futures and imagined dystopias or utopias
  • Failed utopias or other environmentalist schemes
  • Animals messing things up or ruining careful plans
  • Bad taxidermy and other mistakes
  • Funny or uncharismatic wildlife photography
  • Comedic takes on environmental issues and/or existing ecocritical methods


If you would like to discuss any ideas or proposals, please email the editors.


To submit a proposal, please send a 250 word abstract and CV to the editors (, and by November 3, 2021. If you are submitting artwork or video, please include either 1-2 images, or a link to the work online, with your proposal.


Contact Info: 
  • Maria Lux, Assistant Professor of Art, Whitman College,
  • Jessica Landau, Assistant Instructional Professor, Division of the Humanities & Art History, University of Chicago,
Contact Email: