European Association for Studies of Literature, Culture and the Environment

ASLE-UKI One-day Symposium: “Literature and Sustainability”

15th March 2013, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Lampeter Campus

In collaboration with University of Wales Trinity Saint David's Institute of Sustainable Practice and Resource Effectiveness (INSPIRE)

Part financed by TSD's International Office

Confirmed Keynote Speakers

Claire Colebrook (Penn State University)

Adeline Johns Putra (University of Surrey)

Reflection on Sustainability

Jane Davidson (Director of INSPIRE and former Welsh Minister of Sustainability)


The Brundtland Report (1987) defined sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Since then, the concept of “sustainability” has entered a wide range of spheres within socio-politico-cultural life as an idea that aims to recalibrate models of living, that is focussed around interrelations between economy, society and environment, and that has the general aim of safeguarding human and non-human life as well as the planetary home. Notionally a catalyst for change, “sustainability” can also be a buzzword, a smokescreen, a tick in a box, a fundraiser. In seeking out action in the present that functions to ensure a future, “sustainability” poses fundamental questions for both environmental and socio-cultural practice.

This one-day symposium asks what, as literary scholars or environmental critics, we can do with the term “sustainability”. Approaching literature of the past or the present, how do texts figure the various spheres in which the concept of “sustainability” might be applied? How might notions of “sustainability” enter literary analysis, and in what ways might this advance literary scholarship? What does “sustainability” mean for ecocriticism / to ecocritics; or perhaps, conversely, what does ecocriticism mean for “sustainability”? As the cultural weight of technical and popular literature on sustainability accumulates, how do we, as literary scholars, frame our relationship to this diverse and problematic concept? Papers are invited that explore these or similar questions, with both environmental and cultural approaches being welcomed. Themes that might be considered include:

Environmental / social / cultural / political sustainability Growth / limit / degrowth
Climate change
Preserving the ecological base
Restoration ecology
Species extinction / human extinction
Loss of diversity: human / non-human Sustainable community
Technological solutions
Needs of the present / needs of the future
Food security

Please send 250-word abstracts, for 20-minute papers to the organisers, Louise Squire ([email protected]) and Matthew Jarvis ([email protected]) by the CFP deadline of 30th October 2012. Decisions on papers will be made by the 30th November 2012. Full details about the symposium, including costs, registration and accommodation options will be circulated in the autumn. Video Conferencing facilities are available.

The symposium will take place on the Lampeter Campus of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, thirteen miles from the rugged Welsh coast. Wales is home to a number of pioneering sustainability ventures, as well as being the land of heart and song. The University warmly welcomes delegates to this university in the hillsides.

Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, United Kingdom and Ireland


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