September 2019 ASLEC-ANZ News
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ASLEC-ANZ NEWS ~ September 2019
A Note from the President

Dear ASLEC-ANZians,

The Global Climate Strikes last Friday were awesome displays of care, solidarity, hope and urgency, with an estimated 350,000 strikers in Australia protesting against the government's undaunted enthusiasm for new fossil fuel projects. Huge numbers are anticipated in Aotearoa on Friday 27th September. Work in the environmental humanities and arts inevitably overlaps with environmental activism. If you're working at this overlap, please make others in our academic community aware of your work, either through this newsletter or the ASLEC-ANZ Facebook group page.
Save the date: ASLEC-ANZ will be conducting its 2019 Annual General Meeting on Friday 29th November, 1pm AEDT, by zoom link. If you have anything you'd like considered for the agenda, please email me ( by 15th November. Our biennial elections were held last year, so most executive positions will be rolling over until late 2020, but there is a vacancy for a postgraduate representative position. If you're currently a graduate research student and interested in representing postgraduate interests on the ASLEC-ANZ executive please get in touch! And if any of you are keen to be involved in any other way, please let us know.

Alexis Harley

ASLEC-ANZ President

Did you know we have a new Facebook page? Join us here
Image by TeeFarm from Pixabay

Nonhuman Animals, Climate Crisis and the Role of Literature

Matthias Stephan and Sune Borkfelt, Aarhus University

Submissions close 31st December 2019

While climate change is sometimes framed as a largely human concern, or even as nature ‘striking back’ against human over-use and abuse of its resources, the growing climate crisis creates problems for human and nonhuman animals alike. Indeed, there is now widespread recognition that climate change is a leading cause of a current mass extinction event affecting species across the globe. This raises questions about how the current crisis connects to our historical disregard for the interests and capacities of other species, and of whether changing attitudes to human-nonhuman relations can help point towards new, more sustainable ways forward. In Animal Alterity: Science Fiction and the Question of the Animal (2010),Sherryl Vint notes that among science fiction’s ‘most promising’ themes is the ‘aspiration that humans might interact with an intelligence other than our own and be transformed by it’. Vint asks the question of what imagining animals through science fiction may do, and points out that the other species with whom we already share the planet could be those ‘aliens’ that make possible such a dream of transformation. Taking a slightly broader perspective, one could ask what this means – for all literature or for climate fiction specifically – in an age of climate crisis and mass extinction.

There are numerous examples of literature having a ‘real-life’ impact, from Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.  More recently, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring speaks directly to environmental concerns, and Nevil Shute’s On the Beach focuses on nuclear power and speaks to devastation which can be ameliorated. The question is whether literature, in this global internet age, can still have the same kind of impact, can still be a force for change and reconsideration of our way of life – a change made in time to preserve human and nonhuman lives. Can novels such as Ian McEwan’s Solar, Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy, Rawson’s From the Wreck, or Leigh’s The Hunter, to name just a few, push conversation into action? Do dystopian novels like Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? or D’Lacey’s Meat, in which nonhuman animals are seemingly extinct, force us to meaningfully consider such a loss, enough to enact change?

This collection calls for considerations of new interventions by literature in relation to these pressing questions and debates. We are seeking chapters which present cases of literature attempting such intervention, theoretical considerations of the role of literature in these debates, and questions about the efficacy of such a project. We seek diverse voices and perspectives, hoping to see the impact that stories about the issue, and speculating about solutions, can have in shifting debates toward real life concerns.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Nonhuman Presence and Absence in Climate Fictions and Apocalyptic Narratives
  • Dystopia, Post-apocalyptic, and Revisioning the Globe with a Changed Climate
  • Narratives of Extinction and Species Endangerment
  • Nonhuman Animals in (G)local Narratives of Environmental Change
  • Theoretical Approaches to the Depiction of Climate Change in the Global South
  • Representation, Race, and the Asymmetrical Impact of Climate Change
  • Intelligence, Sentience, and Ethics
  • Nonhuman Experience of Environmental Change and Destruction
  • Animal Monstrosity and Environmental Degradation/Destruction
  • Fantasy, Imagination, and the Animalization of Alien Others
  • The Deep Unknown: Blue Humanities and the Impact of Global Climate Change
  • Nature Fighting Back: Representations of Nonhuman Agency
  • The Interests of Species and Nonhuman Individuals in an Age of Climate Crisis
  • Conservation Narratives and Animal Rights
  • Representations of Habitat Loss
  • Posthumanism and Climate Crisis  

Proposals should be for original works not previously published (including in conference proceedings) and that are not currently under consideration for another edited collection or journal. Proposals of 500 words (or optionally completed papers) and abbreviated CVs listing academic affiliation and publications are due December 31st, 2019. Notifications made in January.

If the essay is accepted for the collection, a full draft (5000-7000 words) will be required by May 15th, 2020.

We have had positive preliminary discussions with Palgrave about publication, and the editors of the Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature series are looking forward to receiving a full proposal once the abstracts have been selected.

Please send all queries and proposals to editors, Sune Borkfelt, Aarhus University and Matthias Stephan, Aarhus University The editors are happy to discuss ideas prior to the deadline.

Image by gefrorene_wand from Pixabay

Streams: Transformative Environmental Humanities

An International Environmental Humanities Conference hosted by KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory, Stockholm, Sweden, 5–8 August 2020

Deadline for contributions: Oct 15 & Nov 30th, 2019

The past decade has seen the emergence and rapid growth of a new field of inquiry: the environmental humanities (EH). From the scholarly ‘turns’ of the humanities in the 1990s and 2000s and the increasing demand on science and scholarship to face global challenges, a broad gathering of humanities disciplines emerged and fostered this field.

Now encompassing a number of highly visible academic journals, book series from acclaimed academic publishers, and broader outreach opportunities, environmental humanities have reached a critical moment when it is relevant to convene for a larger meeting. This international conference will continue to experiment, envision and set out future directions for environmental humanities research and teaching, and strengthen their intersections with the social sciences, arts, technology, and the sciences.

The primary purpose of STREAMS is to invite diverse communities of EH practitioners to come together to share work, advance ideas, and craft new imaginaries that can shape present and future transformations. These aims are especially important in the current moment when it seems impossible to imagine or pursue alternatives to the multiple socio-ecological crises taking place around the world.

Submit contributions to:


Photo by Jen Hamilton

Composting Feminisms

The Composting Feminisms and Environmental Humanities reading group has two meetings in October.

Composting #41, on Containers, will be online from 10.00 - 11.30am on Wednesday 2nd October. See here for details.


Composting #42, on Death, will be held at the University of Sydney SOPHI Common Room (Brennan MacCallum 822) on Wednesday 22nd October from 4.00 - 5.30pm. See here for details.

For more information about Composting Feminisms go to

Image by Terri Sharp from Pixabay

Unsettling Ecological Poetics

Thursday 24 - Friday 25 October 2019

RD Watt Seminar Room, RD Watt Building, Science Road, University of Sydney

A symposium and workshop sponsored by the Sydney Environment Institute in collaboration with the Visiting Indigenous Writers Program.


Ecological poetics—“ecopoetics,” for short—understands languages as always already embedded in, and in relation to, their physical environments. Lately, as international awareness of ecological precarity has risen, so have theories and practices of ecological poetics acquired exceptional urgency. Ecopoetics, writes the poet and scholar Isabel Sobral Campos, “may begin to offer new models of how to live on earth and how to reimagine our place within the biosphere.”

While its prominence has increased, ecopoetics has also become the target of critique. Some have argued that its sweeping, planetary framework makes it insensitive to the specificities of the local. Others have pointed out that its emphasis on the “new”—on new visions, languages, forms, and so on—reproduces the very rhetoric of innovation, exploration, and improvement that has been implicated in ecological and other disasters.

Unsettling Ecological Poetics engages this tension by situating ecopoetics in the places known, in Commonwealth parlance, as Australia. Over two days, a culturally and disciplinarily diverse group of critical and creative practitioners will characterise the priorities and possibilities of a situated ecopoetics. Our work will draw nourishment from currents in planetary ecopoetics while reworking those currents, and while rejigging relations among West and East, North and South, global and neighbourly.

Confirmed Speakers

Confirmed participants currently include Charmaine Papertalk Green, Ellen van Neerven, Michael Farrell, Jeanine Leane, Anne Elvey, Jill Jones, John Kinsella, Michelle Cahill, Toby Fitch, Susan Reid, Evelyn Araluen, Jonathan Dunk, Astrida Neimanis, Jennifer Hamilton, Joshua Lobb, Michael Adams, Thom van Dooren, and Anne Collett. A closed workshop, to follow the symposium, will craft a statement of situated ecopoetics and establish the futures of this work.

To register, please send a one sentence expression of interest to

For more information, click here.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Building Earth Ethics in Australia: Pathways and Challenges

Thursday 28th and Friday 29th November 2019

ACU, 115 Victoria Parade , Fitzroy, Victoria 3065

Join us for a thought-provoking two-day conference that will bring people together from a range of fields - including earth ethics, environmental education, Indigenous knowledge systems, environmental psychology, deep ecology, arts, law, science, business, religion and eco-spirituality - to address our central questions:

  • How do we build Earth-centred ethics in Australia?
  • What barriers prevent people from developing and maintaining an Earth-centred world view?
  • How do we address these barriers?

The way we think about ourselves and understand our world informs the governance systems that guide our societies, so our ethical world view is a critical part of the roots for larger change. Earth Ethics orient people towards recognising the interconnected systems of life that we are part of, and in turn help us reflect, make decisions and act in a way that nurtures rather than destroys the living world.

The Conference aims to help people learn and share information about how Earth-centred ethics can be nurtured and built in a time of global ecological crisis and how human societies can continue to build hope and resilience as we face ever increasing environmental, psychological and spiritual challenges.

For more information, click here.

Image by Jess White


Scholarship Opportunity: Samford Environmental Research Facility (SERF)

The Creative Lab and QUT’s Samford Ecological Research Lab (SERF) (managed by the Institute for Future Environments (IFE)) are seeking an outstanding candidate who wishes to develop an Art/Science PhD between these two labs starting starting in early 2020

For detailed information on this exciting opportunity, please click here.

Image by Cindy Lever 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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