ASLEC-ANZ Special 2019 AGM Issue
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ASLEC-ANZ NEWS ~ Special Issue

A Note from the President

Dear ASLEC-ANZians,

This issue of the newsletter is devoted to reports for the upcoming AGM on Friday 29th November at 1pm. If you're free then, you can join via zoom (click on this link - - and if you haven't used zoom on your device before you'll be prompted to download the app and go from there) or join in person at room 1.2.12, Robert Burns Building, Albany Street, University of Otago, Dunedin.

The final newsletter for 2019 will be sent out in early December. If you have any items you'd like to add, please email Jess White at


Very best wishes to all of you,

Alexis Harley

ASLEC-ANZ President

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Image by Bessi from Pixabay

ASLEC-ANZ’s 2019 began with the Grounding Story conference at UNE, convened by Jennifer Hamilton, Stephen Harris, Kate Wright, and our immediate past-president Grace Moore. The conference had a fantastically rich program (see Jen Hamilton’s Aus VP report for more details about the wonderful array of keynote and plenary speakers), and delegates were privileged to attend a great array of evening events (including the Surviving New England: Our Koori Matriarchs exhibition at the Armidale Aboriginal Community Garden, a walkshop between two very special gardens, and a screening of Soda Jerk’s Terror Nullius). Huge thanks to the convenors, UNE, everyone who presented, and the Armidale community for welcoming us.
At the conference, a plenary round-table remembered the life and work of Deborah Bird Rose, one of the world’s most influential, careful multispecies ethnographers, and a friend and mentor to many scholars in our region. ASLEC-ANZ will continue to celebrate her work through the establishment of a biennial Deborah Bird Rose Early Career Prize. Graduate researchers and early career scholars will be invited to submit essays emerging from papers given at the biennial ASLEC-ANZ conference: these should reflect in some way the legacy of Deborah Bird Rose’s scholarship. The winning essay will be awarded a monetary prize and published, subject to editing, in ASLEC-ANZ’s journal. Thanks to Grace Moore for her initial suggestion of such a prize, to Thom van Dooren for his advice, and to Deborah’s family for their support of this initiative.
One of the great joys of 2019 has been witnessing the reincarnation of ASLEC-ANZ’s journal, formerly the Australasian Journal of Ecocriticism and Cultural Ecology – soon to reappear as Swamphen, a homage to the pukeko/Australasian swamphen native to both Aotearoa and the Australian continent, to swamps, pens, and The Goose, journal of the Association for Literature, Environment, and Culture in Canada. We are thrilled to have the journal stewarded by an energetic team of brilliant scholars and writers: Kate Middleton, Alanna Myers, Christine Howe, Robyn Pickens, Hayley Singer, and coordinating editor, Susan Pyke (see Sue’s report for more on the journal). 

ASLEC-ANZ currently has just over 100 members. Our membership is diverse and comprises scholars, artists, writers and practitioners, united by a shared interest in the environmental arts and humanities. While our membership tends to be concentrated in the eastern seaboard of Australia, we have members across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand (and a few from further afield). Since this time last year, we have welcomed 29 new and 10 renewing members. This increase is partly due to it being a conference year, as all presenters at this year’s ASLEC-ANZ conference were required to be ASLEC-ANZ members.

Going forward, memberships will now operate in 6-monthly blocks and there will be two renewal periods a year, June 30 and December 31. So, if you pay for a 1-year membership in November 2019, your membership will be active until 31 December 2020. You are still welcome to join or renew at any time.
If your membership is due for renewal this December, you will soon receive an email from our Managing Coordinator, Alanna Myers. That includes about 40% of you, so do keep an eye out for this email. This year we have implemented an online payment function on our website using PayPal, so the renewal process is now much easier. You are also still welcome to pay your membership fees by direct bank transfer or cheque. If you would like to check on your membership, please email Alanna:

Thanks to everyone in the executive for their massive contributions to ASLEC-ANZ, particularly Alanna, who as Managing Coordinator has done virtually all the day-to-day work of the organisation. Jessica White is doing a wonderful job editing the monthly newsletter. Victoria Team has continued as our much valued and longstanding treasurer. As general editor of Swamphen, Sue Pyke has been generously involved in executive matters. I’ve also been so grateful to our past president, Grace Moore, whose leadership of ASLEC-ANZ over the past two years was absolutely foundational to all the great things that have happened this year, and who is an active, very useful, kind and wise presence on the executive. Finally, special thanks to our vice-presidents, Jennifer Hamilton (Aus) and Anna Boswell (NZ), whose creative energy and careful thinking have been vital to our planning. I’ll be taking a couple of months away from the presidency in honour of a new baby, and am deeply indebted to Jen for kindly agreeing to act as president over that period (thank you!).

As we move towards 2020, we are looking forward to engaging more with early career and graduate researcher members to find ways to support emerging work and workers in our field (we look forward to electing a new postgraduate representative to the executive!). We’re in the process of finding a home for our 2020 conference, which we hope will be in Aotearoa.  As so much of eastern Australia burns this month, we’re also thinking through ways to do the social, collaborative, place-specific work that we do without damaging the very places we’re attending to. We would love to hear members’ thoughts about this, and of course about any aspects of your work.
Wishing you all a safe end to this year,
Alexis Harley

It has been a pleasure working with Alexis, Grace, Jess, Anna, Alannah, Sue and the rest of the team in my first year as ASLEC-ANZ Vice President. My energies were spent this year on the conference which we held in Armidale at the University of New England in February. “Grounding Story: storytelling, activism, environmental change” approached the conference theme by grounding the design of the conference in place, having lots of local events and field trips, and a shuttle bus for all the delegates. The plenary and keynote speakers foregrounded local and trans-Tasman indigenous voices (Callum Clayton-Dixon and Gabi Briggs, Alison Whittaker and Dr Dan Hikuroa) and a key figure in Australian Environmental Humanities, Associate Professor Thom van Dooren, alongside a panel of regional environmental arts practioners (“Kandos School of Cultural Adaptation”); our international keynote, Professor Greta Gaard presented via Zoom with responses from Drs Ruth Morgan and Hayley Singer. The live cross wasn’t entirely successful because of a technical hiccup in question time, but her talk was wonderful. And we posted the audience exercise back to her in the USA!
This event was a huge success from the point of view of both UNE and ASLEC-ANZ. I’d like to thank the Dean of HASSE at UNE, Professor Mike Wilmore, the ADR Professor Jane Edwards and Huw Griffiths for their support and, in particular, the local organising team: Drs Kate Wright and Steve Harris, for really being the best collaborators, colleagues and, ultimately, friends.
I’ve been heartened to see ASLEC-ANZ consolidate some key administrative elements this year, in terms of digitising membership to make workload management easier within the organisation. Keeping our activities simple to enable us to build capacity seems important at this point. I’m also really excited by the discussions of thinking about alternative modes of conferencing and travel as part of our ethos in the organisation. It’s also very exciting to see the first reissue of Swamphen coming to fruition. Dr Sue Pyke’s shepherding of this process and relaunch is so gracious and warmly appreciated.
I think that the current executive team are really working well together, there is a sense of collaborative openness and collegiality that comes across on the Zoom meetings – with Grace sharing her wisdom from the past and Alexis steering us carefully towards the future, Alanna keeping it all together and Jess keeping the whole membership abreast of our activities. I hope we can find a venue for the 2020 conference so we can continue the journey. I very much look forward to continuing to work with ASLEC-ANZ in 2020. Thanks for having me on board!
Dr. Jennifer Hamilton.
The NZ Vice President's report is pending due to illness.
Image by Valiphotos from Pixabay

ASLEC-ANZ Income and Expenditure
01 July 2018 to 30 June 2019
CBA bank account balances based on information from CBA Business Transaction Account statement
Opening balance 1 July 2018              $8,802.70       
Closing balance 30 June 2019             $8,881.72

Income and Expenditure based on information from CBA Business Transaction Account statement
Income                   2195.00 Membership pays
Total income         2195.00
Expenditure           120.00 CBA account fee for 12 months
                               2.50 CBA reject return fee
                               60.20 NSW Fair Trade fee and money order
                               300.00 Donation – Armidale Aboriginal Community Garden
                              1352.24 Conference guest speakers’ flight reimbursement
                              109.09 Conference guest speaker’s gift card
                               41.95 NetRegistry
                               130.00 PO Box services__________________________
Total expenses      2115.98

Image by homecare119 from Pixabay


Swamphen: A Journal of Cultural Ecology is the new iteration of ASLEC-ANZ’s Australasian Journal of Ecocriticism and Cultural Ecology. Our editorial team formed in May this year to further develop the work of this journal. Our team is made up of Kate Middleton, Alanna Myers, Christine Howe, Robyn Pickens, Susan Pyke and Hayley Singer. We are operating as a collective and are hoping to build on the substantial legacy achieved by the founding editor, CA Cranston, who was responsible for the journal from 2011 to 2018. The first issue of Swamphen will be released in early 2020. The articles and book reviews we have selected collect and expand on the thinking begun at the Grounding Story conference held on Anaiwan country earlier this year.

Kate Middleton, Alanna Myers, Christine Howe, Robyn Pickens, Susan Pyke and Hayley Singer

Image by David Mark from Pixabay
We are very pleased to receive a nomination for the position of postgraduate representative from Rachel Fetherston. Rachel is a PhD candidate in literary studies at Deakin University where she is investigating the representation of the nonhuman in Australian ecofiction and the potential impact that such fiction has on the reader’s connection to nature. Her research interests include speculative and science fiction, Australian crime fiction, ecocriticism, multispecies studies, and the intersection of literary theory and nature connection theory. With a background in zoology, she is interested in collaborating with those working in ecology and the social sciences with the intention of utilising the power of narrative to encourage more responsible environmental behaviours in the general public. Rachel also co-founded Remember The Wild, a non-profit that focuses on connecting Australians with nature for the benefit of people and the environment. She is a freelance writer with work published in OverlandAntithesis JournalAustralian Geographic and others, and has worked in the Australian independent book trade for over five years. We welcome any further nominations of postgraduate members of ASLEC-ANZ in advance of Friday's AGM.


Welcome and apologies
Executive reports: 
  • President
  • Vice president (AU)
  • Vice president (NZ)
  • Treasurer
  • Journal editor
Election of postgraduate representative to the executive
Any other business.
Image by ArtTower from Pixabay

Newsletter Tidbits

If you have any news, morsels, publications or info on things ecological and ecocritical, please send them to me for posting in future newsletters.

Jessica White
Editor, ASLEC-ANZ Newsletter


Association for the Study of Literature, Environment & Culture,
Australia New Zealand
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