Paradise on Fire – 2019 ASLE Conference



Conference Website:
Submission Site:
Open Panels:



This year the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE) is experimenting with a two-part submission process intended to make the conference more participant-driven and democratic. The second step is this Call for PAPERS. Proposals must be submitted by December 15, 2018 at 11:59 pm EST.

A diverse array of panels has been chosen by the conference committee; this call for papers now invites anyone who wishes to submit a paper proposal for consideration for inclusion within a specific panel, or to the open call, between October 15 and December 15, 2018. Panel organizers themselves will choose presenters from the submissions that they receive; the panel organizer will evaluate your proposal carefully and notify you of its final status by January 10, 2019. All paper proposals that do not find a home in the panel to which they were submitted will be considered for placement into one of the conference’s open panels. If you submit to the open papers call, or you were not accepted to
the original panel you applied to, conference organizers will evaluate your abstract and you will be notified by February 4, 2019 of its final status. Only one paper submission per person is allowed.

There are nearly 130 panels seeking participants on a variety of topics. Submitting to an accepted panel GREATLY increases your chances of being accepted to the conference, as there is very limited space on the schedule for panels formed via the open call for submissions.

Conference Theme: Paradise on Fire – 

“If paradise now arises in hell, it’s because in the suspension of the usual order and the failure of most systems, we are free to live and act another way.”
― Rebecca Solnit, A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster

The Biennial ASLE Conference will be held in Davis, California, in June 2019. Following a longstanding tradition, this conference gathers scholars and artists working in a diverse array of environmental humanities projects and offers a special focus on some themes that resonate well with the location of the meeting.

Paradise does not exist, and yet that never seems to stop people from finding it, or building it, or dreaming its contours – often to the detriment of humans and nonhumans on the wrong side of its walls. Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy imagines a walled city with a climate-controlled dome called Paradice where genetic engineers create new forms of life, a bubble breached by human violence and climate catastrophe. In the sixteenth century Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo imagined a place called “California,” an island ruled by a dark skinned Amazonian queen with an Arabic name, Califia (Las Sergas de Esplandián).  California was affixed to our maps by conquistadors, eager readers of Montalvo who believed the Earthly Paradise to be nearby. The price of its establishment was the genocide of the land’s indigenous populations. The Greek word for Eden is “Paradise,” a walled garden that bars entrance to most. Yet as Octavia Butler’s dystopian vision of California on fire has shown, walls seldom lead to lasting safety and cannot exclude a turbulent world for long (The Parable of the Sower). If as Rebecca Solnit contends, “paradise arises in hell,” when democratic communities are built from the ground up during times of disaster that leave us “free to live and act another way,” what might life in catastrophic times entail for the environmental humanities? How should we write, teach, protest, live, and act during this era when “paradise” is on fire, figuratively and literally? 

The Biennial ASLE Conference “Paradise on Fire” explores the connections among storytelling, real and imagined landscapes, future-making, activism, environed spaces, differential exclusions, long histories, and the disaster-prone terrains of the Anthropocene. Plenary addresses will be given by Nnedi Okorafor, Cherríe Moraga, Melissa K. Nelson, and Ursula Heise.

Topics may include but are certainly not limited to:

• reckoning with “paradise” in the face of colonial histories, environmental injustice, and ecological
• the intimacy of myth to possibility, alternative realities, and catastrophe.
• the reduction of diversity after the arrival of settler colonialists, especially but not only in
• cross-cultural currents and global vectors, human and non human.
• the relation of imagination to discovery, settlement and transformation.
• extinction, ecological imperialism, monstrosity, megafauna, and scale.
• gender, race and ecology in dystopian times.
• the proliferation of material and ideological walls around enclaves, states, and nations.
• attending better to the people, animals, plants, and natural forces that find themselves on the
  wrong side of the gate, forced into communities not of their choosing, or forced to migrate
  without safe destinations.
• radical welcome: creating more just, capacious, and humane modes of living together across

• how the past matters to the imagination of a more capacious future.
• climate fiction (CliFi), climate fact, and the future of ecological science studies.
• archives of recovery and enclosure.
• Afro-futurisms, Indigenous futurisms, Latinx futurisms, Asian futurisms, queer futurisms.
• California and beyond: exceptionalism, secession, natural and unnatural disasters, green
  gentrification (the L.A. River), evacuation zones, Sanctuary Cities and States, gated
  communities, immigration and Dreamers, Trump’s border wall, housing and being humane.
• The Trans-Pacific: imaginaries, cultures, materialities, flows.
• Fire as emblematic of the strange agencies and hybrid onto-epistemologies of the Anthropocene,
  and fire as emblematic of the passion, energy, and incendiary creativity of activism. 

Paper Submission Process – 

All conference sessions will be 90-minutes long. ASLE strongly encourages presenters to find a panel seeking panelists among the nearly 130 options available. Both scholarly and creative submissions are welcome. We expect to receive more proposals than we can accommodate; therefore, not all proposals will be accepted. Proposals submitted to a specific panel will have a much greater chance of acceptance than individual paper proposals.

ASLE is a diverse professional community that is enriched by the multiple experiences, cultures, and backgrounds of its members, and we strive for access, equity, and inclusion in the conference. 

Key information:

• All paper proposals must be submitted via the Submittable website. Please DO NOT submit a paper directly to the   panel organizer; however, prospective panelists are welcome to correspond with the organizer(s) about the panel   and  their abstract.
• If you do not yet have a Submittable login account, you will need to create one to submit.
• All panel descriptions and submission forms are posted in Submittable. Links to each of the panels seeking panelists   are also listed on the Panel Calls for Papers page, along with a PDF of all panel descriptions and links.
• There are separate forms in Submittable for each panel seeking participants, listed in alphabetical order, as well as   an open individual paper submission form.
• In cases in which the online submission requirement poses a significant difficulty, please contact us at
• Proposals for a Traditional Panel (4 presenters) should be papers of approximately 15 minutes-max each, with an   approximately 300 word abstract, unless a different length is requested in the specific panel call, in the form of an   uploadable .pdf, .docx, or .doc file. Please include your name and contact information in this file.
• Proposals for a Roundtable (5-6 presenters) should be papers of approximately 10 minutemax each, with an   approximately 300 word abstract, unless a different length is requested in the specific panel call, in the form of an   uploadable .pdf, .docx, or .doc file. Please include your name and contact information in this file.
• Proposals for a Jam Session (7-8 presenters), should be papers of eight minute-maximum presentations plus   discussion), with an approximately 200 word abstract, unless a different length is requested in the specific panel   call,   in the form of an uploadable .pdf, .docx, or .doc file. Please include your name and contact information in this   file.
• Individual open call submissions are for 15-minute presentations; potential presenters will be asked to indicate   whether they would also be willing to participate in a jam session with a shorter presentation (which will increase   chances of acceptance); 300 word abstracts should describe both form and content and will be posted within the   Submittable form.
• To encourage institutional diversity and exchange, all panels will include participants from more than one   institution  and from more than one academic level/sector.
• Only one paper proposal submission is allowed per person; participants can present only once during the   conference  (pre-conference workshops and chairing a panel are not counted as presenting).
• ASLE policy is currently to discourage virtual participation at our biennial conferences except in extraordinary       circumstances.


• All proposals must be submitted via Submittable by December 15, 2018 at 11:59pm EST.
• Panel organizers will evaluate your proposal carefully and notify you of its final status by January 10, 2019.
• If you submitted to the open papers call, or you were not accepted to the original panel you applied to, conference   organizers will evaluate your abstract and you will be notified by February 4, 2019 of its final status.
• If you can no longer attend the conference, please inform the organizer of your panel and ASLE of withdrawal by   January 30, 2019.

Thank you for your patience as we attempt this two-step method of organizing our biennial gathering. Our desire is to maximize the ability of our membership to participate in the shaping of the conference, an event at the very heart of our ASLE community. As interest in the environmental humanities has greatly expanded, we hope this structure will not only be more transparent but will take better advantage of the wide-ranging interests, expertise, and diversity within ASLE.

For questions about submitting, please contact us at 

Note: you must be or become a member of ASLE by the time of conference registration (Spring 2019) to present at the conference. Click these links to JOIN or CHECK YOUR MEMBERSHIP STATUS, or contact Amy McIntyre at for assistance.

Pre/Post-Conference Workshops: Pre-registration Required – 

ASLE will hold pre-conference workshops (Wednesday, June 26, 10am-2pm) and post-conference workshops (Sunday, June 30, 9am-1pm) to bookend the 2019 conference. Topics and leaders are listed below and on the conference Schedule and Events web page, click on the title of the workshop to view a description.

The cost of workshops is $20, payable during online registration. Because each will be limited to 15 participants, there is only one slot per person allowed and YOU MUST PRE-REGISTER TO RESERVE A SPOT! To pre-register or be added to a waitlist, please contact ASLE at and provide the following information: in your email’s subject line, the title of the seminar or workshop you are interested in; in body of email, your name, affiliation, and email address.

Pre-registration will open October 15, and will close April 15 (or when full, whichever is earlier). Some preparation in advance of the conference may be required, as noted in the descriptions. Because workshop participants will be listed in the conference program, we encourage (but do not require) you to consider attending in lieu of presenting on a regular conference panel. If you have questions about the content of a workshop not included in the description, you may contact the leaders; all other questions about pre-registration and registration should be directed to Leaders CANNOT accept any pre-registrations directly.


• Affective Ecocriticism, organizers Jenn Ladino, University of Idaho, and Kyle Bladow, Northland College.
• Graduate Student Creative and Critical Workshops, organizer April Anson, University of Oregon.
• The Public Environmental Humanities: An Incubator, organizer Allison Carruth, UCLA.
• UnEarthing/Re-Earthing: Fire and Land, organizers Bibi Calderaro and Margaretha Haughwout, the Coastal   Reading Group.
• Using Maps in Scholarship and Creative Projects: Integrating ArcGIS Online, Story Map Apps and Story Map   Journals, organizers David Taylor and Maria Brown, Stony Brook University.
• Vegan Studies, organizer Laura Wright, Western Carolina Universit.


• California’s Racial Ecologies, organizers Sarah Wald, University of Oregon, and Hsuan Hsu, UC Davis. 
• Fire in the Belly (of the Beast): Doing Ecocriticism in Petrocultures, organizers Heidi C. M. Scott, University of         Maryland, and Bart Welling, University of North Florida.
• Tendings and Eco-poetic Disability Culture: Bodymindspirits of the Future, organizers Petra Kuppers, University of   Michigan and Stephanie Heit, artist.





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