Reading Modernism in the Sixth Extinction
Prospective Modernism/modernity Print Plus cluster
Edited by Caroline Hovanec (Tampa) and Rachel Murray (Loughborough)
Abstracts due by 31 January, 2020
Call for Papers
We are living through the sixth mass extinction – a period of geological history in which species are dying out at up to 1000 times the normal rate. A 2019 UN report warned that as many as one million plant and animal species are threatened with extinction, and recent studies have reported staggering declines in biodiversity over the past fifty years. The causes are anthropogenic – human activities have led to habitat loss, global warming, introduced species, and other pressures on nonhuman species populations. News headlines abound with terms like ‘biological annihilation’ and ‘apocalypse’. The scale of these crises is difficult to capture in ordinary language, driving theorists to develop a new critical vocabulary which includes terms such as ‘ecocide’, ‘petroculture’, ‘Anthropocene’, ‘Capitalocene’, and ‘Plantationcene’. New academic disciplines – such as ‘Extinction Studies’ and ‘Anthropocene Studies’ – have sprung up in response, urging us to think about how the effects of environmental degradation are experienced, narrated, and resisted across a variety of cultural forms, and asking important questions about our place in, and obligations to, a more-than-human world (Bird Rose, van Dooren, Chrulew, 2017).
We seek papers for a cluster that would examine what it means to read modernism in these troubling times. How do modernist texts help us think about nonhuman species, animal vulnerability, geological scales, and more-than-human ethics? What might be gained from reading modernist texts through the lens of present environmental concerns? Submissions are invited to consider, but are not limited to:
- Human-animal relations; non-human ethics; multispecies encounters
- Invasive species; living things that are seen as unwelcome or out-of-place
- Ideas of abundance and excess (too much life)
- Representations of endangered or extinct species
- Animal remains; specimens; fossils
- The language of extinction; extinction as a linguistic phenomenon
- Representations of invisible or newly visible lives
- Modernist forms and techniques as a means of conceptualising extinction
- The exploitation of animals and habitats; precursors to extinction
- Reading extinction in a local, national, transnational, or global context
- Ideas of scale, perspective, and deep time in relation to extinction
- Narratives of decline, degeneration, or apocalypse
- Narratives of resistance, resilience, or recovery
- Extinction, technology and new media
- Teaching modernism in the sixth extinction; the pedagogy of extinction
Please send a titled, 300-word abstract and a brief biography to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com by 31 January, 2020. 6 to 8 contributors will be invited to submit essays of up to 5000 words, after which the entire cluster will be sent out for peer review.
Caroline Hovanec is Assistant Professor of English and Writing at the University of Tampa. She is the author of Animal Subjects: Literature, Zoology, and British Modernism (Cambridge UP, 2018), as well as various essays on animal studies and environmental humanities.
Rachel Murray is a postdoctoral research fellow at Loughborough University. Her book, The Modernist Exoskeleton: Insects, War, Literary Form, is forthcoming with Edinburgh University Press.