We seek submissions for a volume that asks what connections exist between material environments and narrative forms of understanding. Scholars are increasingly drawing our attention to the importance of the stories we tell each other about the environment, such that narratives have become an implicit touchstone for the emerging field of the environmental humanities. This work positions narratives as important occasions and repositories for the values, political and religious ideas, and sets of behaviors that determine how we perceive and interact with our ecological homes. Changing the way we interact with the environment, scholars such as Val Plumwood and Ursula Heise suggest, requires new stories about the world in which we live.
Yet despite this connection, scholarship that puts into dialogue two of the relevant schools of literary criticism—narrative theory and ecocriticism—is scant. Despite the fact that both of these approaches to the study of literature and culture are well established, they appear to have said little to one another; Narrative, the flagship journal of narrative theory, has never featured a special issue focusing on the environment in narratives, and ISLE, the flagship journal of ecocriticism, has never featured a special issue exploring the role that narrative structures play in representations of the environment. After organizing well-attended and generative panels on possible intersections at the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (ASLE) 2013 and the International Society for the Study of Narrative (ISSN) 2014, the co-editors for this volume feel confident that interest abounds for a collection that bridges the work done by scholars in these subfields of literary study.
If these conversations remain in their infancy, is not because the two approaches lack overlapping interests. On the contrary, opportunities for cross-pollination abound. The vocabulary developed by narratologists could benefit certain ecocritical studies, especially in helping ecocritical scholars better account for the formal aspects of representations of environment in various types of narratives (novels, short stories, films, etc). Ecocritical insights could help to broaden narrative theory, particularly in strengthening the connection between text and extratextual world of interest to many postclassical narratologists and expanding the repertoire of questions narrative theorists ask of narratives. Also, both of these approaches have complicated the disciplinary or methodological line(s) between science and humanistic inquiry; can they learn from one another’s attempts? More broadly, how might an approach to reading that combines ecocritical and narratological lenses sophisticate the way we think about narratives within the environmental humanities? What new insights might ecocritical and narratological lenses provide to conversations within the environmental humanities? The co-editors are confident that both approaches can learn from the other but feel this multi-voiced collection would give momentum to questions of how.
Possible topics under consideration in this collection include but are not limited to:
-Access to nature alongside/versus access to narrative
-Animals as characters
-Evolutionary approaches to narrative/“evocriticism”
-Gendered/ecofeminist approaches to narrating natural experience
-Heteroglossia and the natural sciences
-Lyric narrative and forms of nature writing
-Mimesis and diegesis
-Narration, expectation, and natural experience
-Narrative and/as environmental rhetoric
-Narrative and ecocentrism
-Narrative and/of space or place
-Narrative as mediator of natural events (journalism, nature, and narrative)
-“Natural” and “Unnatural” narrative
-Natural disaster as plot device, deus ex machina
-New environmental narratives
-Pathetic fallacy as narratorial strategy
-Person and narration (first, third; omniscient, restricted) and nonhuman narrators and focalizers
-Referentiality and political context
-Role of nature in indigenous forms of narrative
-Spatialization and temporality in narrative
-Storyworlds as virtual environments
Please submit a 250-300 word abstract of your proposed chapter contribution and a short bio-blurb by e-mail to Erin James (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Eric Morel (email@example.com) by January 15, 2015. Also include the working title of your chapter, 3–5 keywords, and the names and contact details for all authors.
Final chapters of 6,000 – 7,000 words will be due September 30, 2015.