CFP (ASLE 2019) – Prehistoric Creatures and Anthropocene Fears: The Past Comes Back to Bite Us

Conference: ASLE (the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment) – Paradise on Fire
Dates of Conference: June 26-30, 2019
Location: University of California, Davis
Deadline for Submissions: December 15, 2018 at 11:59 pm (EST) via Submittable

Horror and science fiction have long featured the return of the prehistoric, the monstrous past coming back to intrude upon the present and thereby shape the future. Jurassic Park is perhaps the most obvious instance of this return of the prehistoric (thanks to human meddling), but the prehistoric also rises up from the depths of the oceans, is triggered by radiation, or is revealed by the events of climate change.

jurassic park

In “How Death Became Natural” (1960), Loren Eiseley describes the human relationship to the geologic and evolutionary past, writing that “we are linked forever to lost beaches whose sands have long since hardened into stone” (164), and speculative narratives about returning prehistoric creatures emphasize this link, bringing the past into our present and possibly into our future. However, Eiseley also writes that there is “[o]ne thing alone life does not appear to do; it never brings back the past” (165). What then does our speculative, fictionalized insistence on bringing back the past say about our present concerns?

Mega Shark

This roundtable seeks to explore the significance of such prehistoric returns during the Anthropocene. How are modern, Anthropocenic fears reflected in such prehistoric creatures? What does the return of the prehistoric indicate about our contemporary anxieties about extinction or about the role of the human in the global ecosystem? And, finally, how does this return – typically figured as a threat – potentially shape our steps into the future?

Please submit 300-word proposals for roundtable presentations to Submittable no later than December 15th, 2018. Please send any questions to Christy Tidwell (christy.tidwell@gmail.com).

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