CFP: Ecohorror Roundtable at MLA 2019

Conference: Modern Language Association, January 2019, Chicago, IL

Sponsored by: The Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE)

Deadline: March 2, 2018

Organizers: Christy Tidwell (christy.tidwell@gmail.com) and Carter Soles (csoles@brockport.edu)

Jaws posterIn recent years, there has been increasing attention within both ecocriticism and horror studies to the intersections between the two fields. The country/city split and the civilized person’s fear of the wilderness and rural spaces, key issues for ecocritics, also loom large over the horror genre. Furthermore, there are entire horror subgenres dedicated to the revenge of wild nature and its denizens upon humanity. As Stephen Rust and Carter Soles write in ISLE, ecohorror studies “assumes that environmental disruption is haunting humanity’s relationship to the non-human world” as well as that ecohorror in some form can be found in all texts grappling with ecocritical matters (509-10).

ecohorror tree

There have been some critical examinations of this intersection – e.g., Ecogothic, edited by Andrew Smith and William Hughes (2013); an ecohorror special cluster in ISLE, edited by Stephen A. Rust and Carter Soles (2014); Monstrous Nature: Environment and Horror on the Big Screen by Robin L. Murray and Joseph K. Heumann (2016); and Plant Horror: Approaches to the Monstrous Vegetal in Fiction and Film, edited by Dawn Keetley and Angela Tenga (2017) – but it is time for a fuller examination of ecohorror as a genre. To this end, we (Christy Tidwell and Carter Soles) are currently in the early stages of an edited collection on the subject, and we believe that a session at MLA devoted to the topic represents another significant step in bringing wider attention to this intersection of ecocriticism and genre studies.

We invite proposals for presentations considering the following:

  • How is human violence against the natural world represented in ecohorror texts? Or, vice-versa, how is violence against humanity by the natural world represented? What effect does this violence have on the relationship between human and nonhuman?
  • How do ecohorror texts blur human/nonhuman distinctions in order to generate fear, horror, or dread?
  • What fears of, about, or for nature are expressed in ecohorror? How do these expressions of fear influence environmental rhetoric and/or action more broadly?
  • How are ecohorror texts and tropes used to promote ecological awareness or represent ecological crises?

godzilla 1954

Because we would like to include a range of voices and perspectives, and we know that there are a number of scholars working within this field, this ASLE-sponsored session will be organized as a roundtable rather than a traditional panel session. This structure means that each presenter will have less individual time to speak (approximately 10 minutes) but also that the roundtable as a whole will be more inclusive and generative.

Please submit 350-word proposals for roundtable presentations to Christy Tidwell (christy.tidwell@gmail.com) by March 2, 2018.

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