Due: January 26, 2024
University of North Florida
Green Fire: Energy Stories Beyond Extraction
Call for Individual and Pre-formed Panel Proposals
The concept of energy has a history that long pre-dates any dreams of resource extraction or electrification. Cultures around the world have viewed different energies, plural, as living forces. Depending on the context, the word “energy” might call up images of interconnected beings, landforms, species, and worldviews. Phases of existence have even been understood in terms of energy, since spirits of the dead are often thought to exert their energies on behalf of, or in opposition to, the living. Robin Wall Kimmerer’s explanation of the Potawatomi word puhpowee—“the force which causes mushrooms to push up from the earth overnight”—pertains to conceptions of energy in many different Indigenous cultures. According to this paradigm, humans are just one of the many types of life-forms inhabiting a “world of being, full of unseen energies that animate everything.” Kimmerer stresses that humans have the responsibility to regulate our personal energies in reciprocal relationships with the energies of the nonhumans with whom we share the world. Aldo Leopold’s famous description of the “fierce green fire” leaving the eyes of a mother wolf he helped kill, along with his definition of land as “a fountain of energy” rather than mere property, shows how similar ideas have taken shape in Western cultures.
Yet, while the dream of “a world of being” has endured, it has mostly been eclipsed by the notion that energy exists to be harnessed. The extractivist way of thinking about and living with energy has resulted in forms of devastation and injustice that everyone concerned about the state of the Earth knows all too well.
We invite proposals—for papers, panels, roundtables, workshops, and creative new forms of dialogue—addressing what ecocriticism, the energy humanities, and other disciplines can do to help change the current situation. We seek contributions that explore different ways of understanding energy and being in the world. Scholars in any discipline are welcome to apply.
Guiding questions include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Which alternative, Indigenous, or non-Western cosmovisions and cosmologies of energy do people living in extractivist energy regimes need to learn about?
- How are day-to-day energetic practices changing in the so-called Anthropocene?
- How can environmental humanists, activists, and ordinary people claim seats at an energy “table” dominated by scientists, technocrats, and billionaires?
- What might scientific and spiritual energy practices have to learn from each other?
- How do those who spend most of their time resisting the extractivist paradigm channel personal, cultural, and more-than-human energies in ways that help them avoid draining their own energies (in the form of burnout)?
- How can recent scientific discoveries about how people and nonhuman beings experience energies inform our research and teaching as scholars in the humanities?
- Which literary, cinematic, rhetorical, and other representational energies are doing the best work in changing how various publics think about energy?
- How are energies being restor(i)ed as meaningful parts of everyday life-worlds?
The symposium will take place in person at the University of North Florida, in Jacksonville, from Thursday, May 16 to Sunday, May 19, 2024. (Scholars who seek alternative presentation formats may contact the co-organizers.) Friday and Saturday will be devoted to panels and plenary speakers, while Sunday will involve workshops at UNF (possibly elsewhere) and field trips and service activities in the ancestral homeland of the Mocama people, also known as the First Coast—site of the oldest permanent European settlements in what is now the United States.
Confirmed keynote speakers include Dr. Kendra Hamilton of Presbyterian College (author of the forthcoming book Romancing the Gullah); author and activist Janisse Ray (Ecology of a Cracker Childhood and numerous other books); and Dr. Heidi Scott of the University of Maryland (Chaos and Cosmos: Literary Roots of Modern Ecology in the British Nineteenth Century, Fuel: An Ecocritical History, and many essays).
To propose an individual paper, please submit an abstract of approximately 300 words and a brief speaker bio to the proposal portal link below.
For pre-formed panel and roundtable proposals, please list names and emails of panelists in the “co-presenter” field; include an overall abstract for the session, as well as titles, brief proposal descriptions and one-sentence speaker bios for each contributor (500 words total).
All proposals are due by January 26, 2024.
To discuss ideas regarding workshops and non-traditional dialogues, or to ask about anything else relating to the symposium, please contact the co-organizers, Jennifer Lieberman and Bart Welling, at greenfireASLE@gmail.com.
Cristin Ellis (she/her)
Associate Professor of English
The University of Mississippi
C128 Bondurant Hall
P.O. Box 1848
University, MS 38677-1848
Antebellum Posthuman: Race and Materiality in the Mid-Nineteenth Century (Fordham University Press, 2018)