Stef Craps and Rick Crownshaw, eds.
Spec. issue of Studies in the Novel 50.1 (2018). [forthcoming]
Publication year: 2018

Call for Papers: The Rising Tide of Climate Change Fiction

Studies in the Novel is currently seeking submissions for a special issue on “The Rising Tide of Climate Change Fiction,” guest-edited by Stef Craps (Ghent University) and Rick Crownshaw (Goldsmiths, University of London), which will be published in spring 2018 as part of the journal’s 50th anniversary volume.

Often described as emergent, climate change fiction constitutes a by now well-established set of literary texts that has attracted the attention of both academic and non-academic communities of readers. Prominent examples include Ian McEwan’s Solar, Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior, and Nathaniel Rich’s Odds against Tomorrow. The cultural place of this kind of writing has been confirmed by the recent publication of Adam Trexler’s survey Anthropocene Fictions: The Novel in a Time of Climate Change, amidst a growing body of literary-critical work (such as Adeline Johns-Putra’s), and the increasing acceptance into the mainstream of the “cli-fi” label. A typical facet of much climate change fiction is its imagination of a catastrophic future world in which climatological devastation, unfolding but often imperceptible and ignored in our times, is made tangible and inescapable. Other works steer clear of the prevalent post-apocalyptic or dystopian mode: set in the present, they explore the political, ethical, and psychological dimensions and ramifications of climate change at the current moment.

In addition to the rise of fiction grappling with the representational and existential challenges thrown up by a warming planet, the last few years have seen the publication of a significant amount of sophisticated humanities scholarship theorizing climate change and its cultural framings and impacts. Questions of scale have been key, from the planetary imagination of environmental crisis (Ursula Heise), over the conception of climate change as a form of slow violence (Rob Nixon) or a hyperobject massively distributed in time and space (Timothy Morton), to the derangement of temporal and spatial scales by which climate change can be mapped and represented (Timothy Clark). These scalar recalibrations have been prompted by the ascendancy in the academy of the notion of the Anthropocene. Even if the inception date of the new geological epoch defined by the actions of humans is subject to debate (Simon Lewis and Mark Maslin), the conceptualization of humanity’s geological agency has afforded ways to chart the history of our species before and beyond globalized industrial capitalism and its effects on the climate (Dipesh Chakrabarty). Moreover, it has created an awareness of the need to think beyond the humanist enclosures of critical theory (Tom Cohen) and to acknowledge the interconnectedness of the human and the non-human (Jane Bennett; Stacy Alaimo). Meanwhile, postcolonial, feminist, and queer theorists have reminded us of the disparities in agency, vulnerability, and impact among the world’s people in the “age of humans” (Nicholas Mirzoeff; Elizabeth DeLoughrey; Claire Colebrook).

This rich body of theoretical work provides numerous opportunities for developing new approaches to fictions of climate change. We invite paper submissions that engage topics such as the following:

  • literary strategies for overcoming the imaginative difficulties posed by the vast scale and complexity of the climate crisis
  • conceptualizations of the Anthropocene and how they inform the theory and practice of the literature of climate change
  • the relation between climate change fiction and new directions in ecocriticism (especially queer, postcolonial, new materialist, and memory and trauma studies)
  • the cultural representation of specific fossil fuels and energy systems in the context of climate change
  • representations of the relationship between economic and environmental crises
  • the relation between climate change fiction and literary and cultural responses to other “traumas” of modernity, ranging from genocide to the nuclear threat and the discovery of geological time in the early nineteenth century
  • widening the canon of climate change fiction: non-Western and minority literature, non-Anglophone literature, literary production prior to the late twentieth century, cultural forms of representation other than the novel, experimental narrative fiction, “high” vs. “low” literature, speculative realism

Submissions should be sent in Microsoft Word format, devoid of personally identifiable information. Manuscripts should be 8,000-10,000 words in length, inclusive of endnotes and works-cited list, have standard formatting (1” margins, double-spaced throughout, etc.), and conform to the latest edition of the MLA Style Manual. Endnotes should be as brief and as limited in number as possible. Illustrations may accompany articles; high-resolution digital files (JPEGs preferred) must be provided upon article acceptance. All copyright permissions must be obtained by the author prior to publication.

Questions and submissions should be sent to studiesinthenovel@unt.edu.

The deadline for submissions is February 10, 2017.