Rust/Resistance: Works of Recovery
Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE)
Twelfth Biennial Conference, June 20 – 24, 2017
Wayne State University
In Rust: The Longest War, Jonathan Waldman claims that, for those who “yield to rust, find beauty in rust, capitalize on rust, raise awareness of rust, and teach about rust, work is riddled with scams, lawsuits, turf battles, and unwelcome oversight. Explosions, collisions, arrests, threats, and insults abound.” Rust is the underside of cosmopolis. Rust belts follow industry and its corrosions; the parasitic Rust fungi are enemies of agriculture. And yet there is an irenic side to rust: it inspires contemplation, the search for beauty, and the effort to defend what is threatened. As an agent of time, rust sponsors stories of collapse-and-recovery, evolution-and-extinction, but it also questions them. Narratives of progress that see rust as the enemy are not universal. In Japanese aesthetics, for instance, sabi is the beauty of natural aging and aged materials; what is new is not as lovely as what has weathered. In a time obsessed by environmental apocalypse, rust may reveal other trajectories for cultures of recovery. Resurget Cineribus, “It Will Rise from the Ashes,” is the motto of Detroit—our host city.
Long associated with steel, car culture, and the music of Motown, Detroit is also a site of struggle for racial and environmental justice, against depopulation and “ruin porn,” and for the preservation of artistic heritage. A nexus of encounters between indigenous nations and the French fur trade, it became a locus of the Great Migration, “white flight,” and gentrification. Water-rich on the strait between Lake Huron and Lake Erie, Detroit and its neighbors struggle against corroded infrastructure and government corruption. For all those reasons, Detroit is an ideal place to confer about rust, resistance, and recovery. We invite participants to interpret the conference theme as broadly as possible and to imagine their work in terms of content and form. We particularly encourage non-traditional modes of presentation, including hybrid, performative and collaborative works; panels that minimize formal presentation in favor of engaged emergent discussion; interdisciplinary approaches; environmentally inflected readings of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, film, theatre and other media; and proposals from outside the academic humanities, including submissions from artists, writers, teachers, practitioners, activists and colleagues in the social and natural sciences. Topics may include, but are certainly not limited to:
* The literatures, arts, and cultures of the Rust Belt, the Great Lakes, and Appalachia. Bioregionalism, eco-cosmopolitanism, multinaturalism, (New) historicism, material ecocriticism, posthumanism, queer ecology, postcolonial ecocriticism, new media theory, decolonization theory, geography, and geocriticism as techniques for the analysis of rust-culture.
* Transnational rust: Detroit and its relationship with Ontario; the borderlands of Canada and the United States; nationalist and cosmopolitan rusts; colonial, postcolonial, and decolonial rusts.
* Elemental rust: Rust as an element of nature writing, natural history, agrarian and wilderness literature. The nature of iron and the arts of steel; water as an agent of rust; rust as vitality, materiality, and quintessence; corrosion as hyper-object; mines, foundries, and factories; nuclear rust; rust and oil, coal, and natural gas; Rust as programming language; rust as the essence of the Internet; the Internet of (Rusty) Things; steampunk aesthetics; rust as waste of civilization.
* Labor and rust: Corrosions of justice; the literature and other arts of labor; agricultures of resistance; class as a category of environmental analysis; working class nature writing; environmental infrastructures; precarity and the corrosion of higher education; petrocultures of labor; the work of environmentalism; the energy humanities; environmental catastrophes and the working class; blue collar conservation and restoration; environmentalism and the Old Left; folk, rock, soul, funk, and other forms of music as resistance..
* Aeons of rust: Iron ages: archaic, classical, late antique, medieval, early modern, Renaissance, Victorian, Modernist, and postmodern rust; the aesthetics and poetics of weathering, rhetorics of collapse and recovery; periodization after the “Anthropocene;” narratives of extinction; legends of rust; rust as telos; rust as closure; cosmologies, cosmogonies, and eschatologies of rust.
* The arts and sciences of resistance: Public health and environmental justice; methods derived from climatology, paleontology, geology; changes in the weather reporting; post/industrial ecologies; urban ecology; urban nature/parks/green spaces, urban planning; planned resilience; cities and climate change; ecotopias, urban renaissance, new urbanisms; green architecture.
* Methods of resistance: Recovering conservation, ecofeminism, Deep Ecology, intersectionality, critical race theory, comparatism, formalism, anthropology, folkloristics, social ecology, deconstruction, eco-Marxism, Green anarchism, Writing Studies, rhetoric and composition, and other “rusty” methods for the environmental humanities.
* Genres of resistance: Natural histories of resistance; the poetry of witness; testimony, autoethnography, virality as modes of activism; slam and avant-garde ecopoetry; folklore; the visual arts of resistance; post/industrial photography; survivance as a resistant mode; “cli-fi”; sentimental literature as resistance; Naturalism; the proletarian novel; prison literature; resistant memoir; investigative theater; viral video; the politics of video games; the museum as target or agent of resistance; video installations.
* Recovering ecological citizenship: Rhetorics of citizenship; the public sphere in the age of climate change; globalization and the “global citizen”; social media as an activist tool; traditions of direct action; democratic environments; green populism; civic environmentalism; activist pedagogies.
* Recovering lost lands: Narratives of drowned cities and lost homelands (Atlantis, Tuvalu, Aztlan, Doggerland, Oz); the literature of hurricanes and floods; Katrina, Sandy, and the media; water rights; state seizures of local resources and governance; the environment of ethnic neighborhoods; refuges and refugia; sanctuaries; ecological sovereignty; ecological reparations; eco-cultural nationalisms: First Nations activism, gay and lesbian lands/queer territories, postcolonial recoveries; cosmopolitan alliances.
* Recovering past and future: Ends of environmental history; paradises born in hell; the place of the Roman and other empires in declensionist narratives; linguistic recoveries; neo-medievalisms; fantasy fiction as imagined past; science fiction as extrapolation; queer futurities; archaeology and anthropology in the environmental humanities; the corrosion and recovery of literary history.
Panel and Paper Submission:
For additional information and to submit a pre-formed panel or individual presentation, please visit the conference website at http://asle2017.clas.wayne.edu
All proposals must be submitted by December 12, 2016. We will evaluate your proposal carefully and notify you of its final status by February 15, 2017.