“The Sustainable Humanities” is the admirable title of Stephanie Foote and Stephanie LeMenager’s comments on the role of the humanities in the research on, practice of, and teaching of sustainability (PMLA May 2012). Their title asks us to imagine that the humanities is made sustainable by its participation in the broader project of sustainability–or whatever you choose to name the equitable sharing of the planetary commons. The MLA Commons seems the perfect place to test Rob Nixon’s assertions in the same PMLA issue that the commons need not be a site of tragedy but can instead be a site of cooperation. This group invites all interested in sharing ideas of research, practice, and teaching that continue to define and enhance the role of the humanities in the project of sustainability.

CFP: The Language of Plants: Science, Philosophy, Literature and Cinema

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    Patricia I. Vieira

    Call for Papers: Edited Collection

    The Language of Plants: Science, Philosophy, Literature and Cinema
    (forthcoming, 2015)

    Edited by Patricia Vieira, Monica Gagliano and John Ryan

    Ecocriticism’s rise to prominence in the fields of literature and cultural studies has been paralleled by the investigations of plant intelligence in botany and by novel philosophical approaches to the ontology of plants. However, attempts to integrate these bodies of knowledge have been scarce. The Language of Plants will commence a dialogue between philosophy, science, literature and cinema dealing with plants. The aim of the edited collection is to develop a better understanding of plant life through critical awareness, conceptual rigor, and interdisciplinary thinking.

    Envisioned as a ground-breaking work that will bridge a number of fields, The Language of Plants will (1) allot to literature, cinema and the arts a special role in the integration of the scientific and philosophical research on plants at the experiential level, (2) promote the freedom of imagination necessary for the rethinking of vegetal life and, thereby, (3) inspire further philosophical and scientific investigations. The book will not only seek to consolidate the nascent paradigm shift in the human conceptualization of vegetation, but it will also join ongoing discussions of plant ethics.

    The overarching focus of The Language of Plants is language itself, broadly conceived. We ask contributors to relate their discussions of plants, philosophy, science, literature or cinema to the theme of language. In one sense, language represents, mediates or expresses something about the plant world in all disciplines—across the humanities and sciences—leading to discourses of the plant world. Innovative philosophical thinking and groundbreaking scientific research similarly call into question the limits of language in describing the botanical world and human-plant dynamics. In another sense, plants exhibit varieties of communicative modes that constitute the language they use to make sense of and navigate their worlds. Understanding the language of plants ultimately has implications for environmental ethics.

    We encourage the submission of papers on topics such as:
    – the philosophy of plant life, including applications of biosemiotic, phenomenological, poetic and ontological frameworks
    – literature and plants
    – cinema and plants
    – plants in popular culture
    – the history of human/plant interactions
    – plants in colonialism/post-colonialism
    – emerging interdisciplinary fields of critical plant studies, human-plant studies, human-plant interactions, vegetal ecocriticism and others
    – plant behavioural ecology, including all aspects of communication, learning, memory and intelligence;
    – plant ethics and wild law

    Chapter contributions of 6,000–7,000 words (including footnotes) are welcome.

    Please submit a 250-300 word abstract of your proposed chapter contribution and a short bio-blurb by e-mail to Patricia Vieira (pilmvieira@gmail.com), Monica Gagliano (monica.gagliano@uwa.edu.au) and John Ryan (john.ryan@ecu.edu.au) by February 28, 2014. Also include the working title of your chapter, 3–5 keywords, and the names and contact details for all authors.

    The final chapters will be due September 30, 2014.

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