We invite friends and colleagues from across the arts and humanities to join with writers and critics interested in place, landscape and environment to present their work in Sheffield, UK. Sheffield is the gateway to the North of England, an ex-steel city surrounded by seven hills and the stunning peat bogs, moors and streams of the Pennines, a rich industrial heritage of textiles and mining, leaving many environmental challenges, and art, particularly sculptures, in and out of the landscape. Our trips will reflect this. At this conference, we ask participants to fully engage with “the challenge of the environmental humanities as a transdisciplinary matrix” (Heise) and to deepen their analysis of what it is to work Cross, Multi, Inter, Trans. The recent marked shift to the use of this term “environmental humanities” suggests that we wish to respond together to slow and quick environmental changes, to ask what can critical and creative arts do in relation to each other, to the non-human world that surrounds us, and, not least, to environmental crises? The conference will bring critical and aesthetic enquiry into dialogue exploring how creative practice not only informs critical analysis, but is also a critical tool in itself.
There is a longstanding resistance to boundaries and binaries within the ecologically-engaged community and a longstanding engagement with hybridity, entanglement and liminality, to explore the naturalcultural world (Haraway). Through our lines – of texts (poetic or prosaic), of images (drawn or framed), of mapping (traditional or “deep”) – do we cross boundaries or merely re-make them? Through terms such as Cross, Multi, Inter, Trans, are we working to preserve or subvert specialism, to hybridise, or to get beyond discipline altogether? What happens to our artistic production and to our aesthetic approaches to text and image when we shift our accustomed lenses? Do we give birth to new catch-all categories or theories such as the Posthuman, Ecopoetics, New Materialism or Biosemiotics? How useful are these? Do we produce “new” and hybrid forms of art and how do these affect our understanding of landscape, place and environment? What new methodologies might emerge? How might such collaboration be sustained and nourished? How in turn might such Cross, Multi, Inter, Trans work affect/intersect with local and global environmental attitudes, ethics, activism, politics and policy?
Here we ask you to invent, re-invent, imagine and re-imagine in particular through Cross, Multi, Inter, Trans, and collaborative work:
between the arts – text and image, dance and film, photography and sound – sub-genres within the arts – nature writing and poetry; sculpture and painting, fiction and digital media.
between artist or critic and plant; insect; mammal; bird; object; place; landscape; weather.
“intra” one genre: “Novels, stories, are always about relationship, so they are a beautiful way to investigate and to talk about this quality of interbeing, the way we inter-are,” writes Ruth Ozeki, novelist and Zen Buddhist priest.
between critical discourses ecocriticism; environmental philosophy/spirituality; hard and soft sciences; arthropologies; geographies; political ecology; communication/media studies; gender studies; postcolonial and comparative studies.
In addition to relatively traditional academic formats we wish to encourage experimental modes of presentation and we welcome creative and hybrid proposals. Possible formats include: individual scholarly papers of 20 minutes, individual creative contributions of 20 minutes or pre-made panels of collaborative creative, critical or critical-creative dialogues/conversations/performances/presentations. Please send contact details, brief blogs, IT requirements and an abstract of 300-500 words by 15 March 2017.
If you collaborate already, you are especially welcome to present here, alone, in pairs or in groups and in conventional and unconventional formats. If you would like to collaborate this year in the build-up to the conference, get in touch touch with the organisers by 1 September 2016 for a match-making service particularly between artists and writers. Please send contact details and 500 words explaining your area of interest.