European Association for Studies of Literature, Culture and the Environment

5th Biennial Conference

Contributions are invited for the 5th EASLCE International Conference on “Natura Loquens: Eruptive Dialogues, Disruptive Discourses,” to be held in Tenerife, Canaries, SPAIN, 27-30 June 2012. The event is organised on behalf of EASLCE by the University of La Laguna, Faculty of Philology, and the Department of English and German Studies, in the island of Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain.

visit the dedicated website to find more information y información en español: https://sites.google.com/site/naturaloquens/

There is an ongoing debate nowadays over the agency of Nature and the necessity of reopening the definition of what counts as speech. One would need to differentiate between new insights about animal communication and the idea that non-animal and inanimate nature “signify,” or the suggestion of biosemiotics that life itself is a process of signification. Thus, Nature often presents articulated reactions which can be both eruptive and disruptive. We expect to bring to the arena of this academic meeting, placed at the very foot of Mount Teide (Spain’s highest volcanic peak, with an altitude of 3718 m.), as manifold eruptive dialogues as possible. Attention will focus on the contrasting relationship between Nature and humankind, ever in perpetual and delicate interrelationship since the history of humankind and especially after the emergence of the so-called Anthropocene Era (P. Crutzen). In effect, the ability to speak and communicate made it possible to detach this Homo sapiens genus from other animal species, establishing thus a hierarchy that has been working until present day. Such Aristotelian human “loquacity” is based on a “great chain of being” (A.O. Lovejoy) that places this Homo loquens in a superior position, being able to structure and articulate the universe. If we were able to deconstruct and reverse this idea in order to acknowledge Nature’s ability to speak out (Christopher Manes, David Abrams), then multiple and creative conversations could be established, so as to reconstruct the natural order of things. While environmental concerns grow louder and more frequently today, traditional disruptive discourses that posit the idea of nature as an impediment to human progress do continue to emerge and spread out. The main purpose of this conference is then to reenact, rethink and fluidize the dialogic balance between Nature and human knowledge, engaging in an intellectually fairer and more empathetic communication.

Proposals for papers (EITHER standard papers 2500 words/20 minutes OR contributions to paper jam sessions 1250 words/12 minutes) and panels (3 papers OR 5 jam session papers) are now invited. Topics will include but not be restricted to:

- Ideological, philosophical, political and cultural uses and/or misuses of the concept of Nature as the material reality of the sum of all organic and inorganic phenomena, including human beings.
- Description of Nature’s “agency” in cultural, artistic, literary and filmic representations of the anthropocentric canon in diachronic and synchronic historical periods.
- Dialogues and discourses regarding either subalternity or supremacy of Nature in historical, sociological, economic and artistic documents and other media.
- The interaction of Nature and Humankind in the creation/destruction of the world, as depicted in sci-fi, catastrophe literature, and trans- and post-human utopias/dystopias.
- Lead metaphors and metonymies, and other semantic tropes, structuring our perception and comprehension of the natural world, and the human capacity to transform the environment.
- Material/spiritual approaches to the natural world and their political and ethical contestations.
- The “retaliation” of Nature, especially in the 21st century: climate change, the ozone hole, “nukes” and quakes, eruptive ash clouds and other “apocalyptic” signs.
- The mirage/miracle of Nature: biodiversity & homogenization, global and local phenomena, human-made/destroyed landscapes, eruptions and erosions…
- The seemingly “pathetic fallacy”: Speaking animals, plants or inanimate objects in literature and the arts.
- Theoretical & critical approaches to Nature, and discussion of their frailties and strengths in contemporary debate: postcolonialism, environmentalism, ecological feminism, material ecocriticism, toxicity and discourse, biosemiotics, ecopedagogy, eco-translatology, and others.
The primary conference languages will be English and Spanish, but (following our practice at previous EASLCE conferences) proposals for panels in other European languages are also welcome.
Please submit proposals for panels or individual papers (title plus 250 words), together with a brief bionote (4-5 lines), and complete contact data, to Professor Juan Ignacio Oliva ( jioliva(at)ull.es ) by 15 February 2012, indicating your IT requirements.

About the venue:

The island of Tenerife is not only the largest volcanic island of the Canarian archipelago, but it is
also home to the highest mountainous peak in Spain: Mount Teide (3718 metres). It is a continent in
miniature, surrounded by beautiful landscapes that vary from green Pine and Laurel forests, to brownish
moors, moulded by lava eruptions, dark sandy beaches and huge and impressive sea cliffs. Spanish
colonial architecture can be enjoyed by walking in the historical towns of La Orotava and San Cristóbal de
La Laguna (UNESCO World Heritage City since 1999), the place where the first University in the Canaries
was founded in the 18th century. During the conference, we will have the opportunity of visiting “Las
Cañadas del Teide National Park” (which is the most visited park in Spain), together with touring the cities of La Laguna and Puerto de la Cruz, in the renowned Orotava valley, at the very foot of Mount Teide. We dearly hope that the most promising academic programme of the venue comes to terms with the leisure activities planned and the outstanding beauty of the fortunate islands, as they have been called ever since ancient Roman times to present day. Enjoy it!

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