SURREAL ENTANGLEMENTS: ESSAYS ON JEFF VANDERMEER’S FICTION

Proposals are invited for a collection of essay that engage Jeff VanderMeer’s fiction as the starting point and springboard for a series of sustained critical inquiries into the changing material realities and posthumanist discourses that are now identifiable features of the Anthropocene. Pursuing the questions and quandaries at the core of VanderMeer’s fiction, the essays in this collection will explore what it might take to reckon with, and creatively realize relations of entanglement at material, political, cultural, global, and even cosmic sites and scales so that these surpass the present, often acritical acquiescence to these challenging interrelations.

Given the eclectic quality of VanderMeer’s writing and subject matter, the editors invite contributions from scholars working in and across diverse fields, including ecocriticism, new materialisms, posthumanist and postcolonial theory, feminist science studies, American literary history, science fiction, climate change, and Anthropocene fiction.

Possible topics might address

  1. how or why VanderMeer’s fiction brings together many of the broader environmental-social concerns reflected in theories of the Anthropocene (environmental justice, postcolonialist, gender-based and species-based politics, etc.). How this fiction challenges problematic dimensions of Anthropocene theory (its universalism or techno-determinism regarding how we should “manage” problems like climate change);
  2. ways VanderMeer’s work challenges the “realist” frameworks typically employed within traditional “nature writing” and ecocriticism. That is, while his fiction is relevant to contemporary political-environmental concerns, it doesn’t rely on a representationalist or correlationist theory of language. VanderMeer’s fiction seems to employ elements of “naturalist” writing but radically rejects romantic valorizations of place as something that offers an escape from the ontological and epistemological uncertainties of modernity; and
  3. how VanderMeer’s fiction allows us to explore emergent ideas regarding materiality, derived from a diversity of fields (scientific frameworks, new materialist philosophy, feminist philosophy, etc.). Likewise, ways his material storyworlds deconstruct modernist dualisms (between text-materiality, organic-inorganic domains, mind-body, human-more-than-human, etc.).

Proposals should be sent to Laura Shackelford (lxsgla@rit.edu) and Louise Economides (louise.economides@mso.umt.edu) as an .odt or .doc document by 15 October 2018. Please put “Surreal Entanglements” in the subject line and include the following in the body of your message:

  •     Your name and a short biography
  •     An abstract of no more than 500 words
  •     A list of five keywords/tags
  •     Preferred e-mail address

Completed essays of 3,000–6,000 words in length will be due in March 2019.