Waters Rising Call for contributions to a special issue of Green Letters on floods in the literary imagination of environmental crisis
With a tradition dating back at least to the epics (e.g. Gilgamesh and Noah’s Ark), stories of floods have long been literary metaphors of great rhetorical power and familiar imagery; water can be a punishment for imagined wrongdoings and a means of washing away old worlds and starting afresh. The language of flooding permeates popular culture as a metaphor for forces out of control. In our current moment of environmental crisis, floods are often invoked to stand in synecdochally for the breakdown of our known ecologies; from films such as The Day After Tomorrow and Flood to novels like The Hungry Tide, Odds Against Tomorrow, and Flight Behaviour, imagery abounds of human cultures laid waste to by the power of water.
In this special issue, we want to take a closer look at the way that floods are instrumentalised in contemporary narratives as a means of confronting and discussing climate change. What kinds of futures are imagined by these stories?What ideas about guilt, human agency, and retribution are transmitted by floods and how do these render flood metaphors effective or ineffective when talking about the broader environmental picture? What ideas about resilience and recovery, equality and inequality are encoded in flood stories? What is the influence of older flood stories on contemporary depictions of climate crisis floods? How do floods destroy familiar landscapes and structures, and create new ones? How do less narrative art forms (poetry, art) utilise the idea of the flood to invoke environmental crisis? How are representations of flood different or similar across different media, different regions and traditions?
We invite papers of 6000-7000 words on the literary imagination of the flood as environmental disaster. The focus of the issue will be on the depiction of flooding as an effect of anthropogenic climate crisis in contemporary media, but we are also interested in older media or historiographical studies that show the emergence of contemporary understandings of flooding.
The issue seeks to trace ideas of flooding as environmental disaster in a variety of forms and media, and explicitly invites non-narrative forms, as well as texts emerging from beyond the Anglo-American context.
Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism is the journal of ASLE-UKI (the UK- Ireland branch of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment). It is a peer-reviewed journal published by Routledge and supported by Bath Spa University and the University of Worcester. Green Letters explores interdisciplinary interfaces between humans and the natural and built environment.