ASLE-UKI Postgraduate Conference: Edinburgh 2024

Call for Papers

Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, UK and Ireland, Postgraduate Conference 2024

‘Arts of Noticing: Attention and the Environment’

5-6 September 2024, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Environmental Humanities Network

Confirmed Keynote Speakers:

  • Eva Haifa Giraud (University of Sheffield)
  • Alycia Pirmohamed (University of Cambridge)

 

 

The 2024 postgraduate conference for the Association for the Study of Literature and
Environment, UK and Ireland (ASLE-UKI) will be hosted by the Edinburgh Environmental
Humanities Network at the University of Edinburgh. ASLE-UKI welcomes participation
from postgraduate and early career scholars, readers, and creative practitioners
interested in the relationships between literatures, arts, environments and cultures – past,
present, or future from anywhere in the world.

Conference Theme:
The themes of the 2024 conference are ‘Attention’ and ‘Noticing’. Understanding the
complexities of our environments requires our close attention. A considerable body of
scholarship has taken to this task, inspired particularly by Anna Tsing’s work on the ‘arts
of inclusion’ (2010). Tsing’s call for attention was initially tuned towards how various
types of experts include newcomers in their love of particular plants, creatures and fungi.
Subsequently, this relational mode moved to the individual cultivating various
alternative ‘arts of attentiveness’ (van Dooren et al. 2016) or ‘arts of noticing’ (Tsing 2015)
that will aid in ethically recalibrating our ecological relations. But in a time of shortening
attention spans and pronounced visuality, what role does attentiveness truly play? How
can we pay attention to more-than-human entities and multiple timescales? What needs
to come after noticing? How can attentive literature and other aesthetic forms craft
meaningful responses of ecological care? As with previous ASLE-UKI conferences we are
happy to receive papers on any aspect of literature, culture, creative practice and the
environment, but we particularly welcome responses to the following prompts:

Is attention is limited? In an era of constant distraction, our attention spans seem to be
shrinking. We welcome papers that address the challenges of noticing or attending to in
the technological age; how can we pay attention when we are overwhelmed by a sense
of informational overload? What role might literature play in this? Too often, noticing is
understood as a visual process. We welcome papers – particularly about non-
Eurowestern traditions – that consider what other perceptual and embodied experiences
can afford that simply seeing might not? How are haptic or bioacoustic practices
(Sounding Soil 2023), for example, changing the way we notice and thus our ontological
understanding? Even then, not all entities are directly sensible to our individual bodies
(Krzywoszynska 2019). How does this define how we pay attention to the more-than-human,
and how care ethics are subsequently shaped (Puig de la Bellacasa 2017)?

What forms of attentiveness are there? The proposed geological epoch of the
Anthropocene has given greater attention to certain forms of temporality, as well as to
the unjust geosocial distribution of its cause and effect (Yusoff 2018). But what are the
links between various forms of attention and our understanding of time? How does this
relate to indigenous knowledges whereby, as Rangi Matamua writes, attention to ‘local
environment and ecological change’ has a history of determining experiences,
orientations, and units of time (2020; Whyte 2017). Furthermore, what can site-specific
creative practices, for instance, relatedly teach us? How does close attentiveness to the
natural world, as seen in Alycia Pirmohamed’s debut collection Another Way to Split
Water (2022), tie into memory and our understanding of ourselves, our identity and
transformations. Often paying attention is seen to also slow one down. Hence, how
might certain modes of attention allow us to think about slow, unseen, unjust
environmental violence (Nixon 2011; Davies 2019)? What new formal innovations are
most suitable? What is the role of noticing in time-keeping practices and where does this
sit within a context of climate crisis (Bastian and Bayliss Hawitt 2023)?

What comes after attention? Research articles on attentiveness or noticing often focus
on how to pay attention: how to detect myriad ecological changes or how close read
literary texts. Yet, what comes after attention is not necessarily always expanded upon.
Eva Haifa Giraud’s What Comes after Entanglement? recognises this, eliciting the limits
of theories of relationality, while parsing possibilities for political action (2019). With
this in mind, we invite contributions that consider how attention moves into
accountability, artistic expression, or political action. How might attentive forms of
science fiction, fiction, poetry, drama — or other aesthetic forms — craft meaningful
responses to environmental issues? What is the role of attentiveness in justice and ethics
and care (Chao and Kirksey 2022), and how do arts of noticing translate into responsibilities?
How has literature and literary studies, and the humanities more broadly,
interpreted this?

How to notice ourselves? Attention involves a level of direction and selection. While it
can be both a passive and a deliberate act, it necessitates a degree of un-attention.
Turning towards something, often means switching our attention away from another
(Clark 2020). In era of massively distributed ecological crises, how can we possibly
attend to everything, everywhere, all at once? How do we justly navigate or even
challenge this dynamic; how might attentiveness be multiplied and maintained?
Furthermore, despite the values of directing our attention towards human and more-than-human others, ethical research requires that we attend to ourselves too, our positionality
and our practices. We welcome papers on self-reflexive attention within the academy.
What kinds of attention would ensure more equitable Environmental Humanities
research? How might noticing our own positionalities and our practices ensure that
marginalized voices are given space and heard and in the scholarship and discourse of
environmental injustice (Todd 2016)?

How do others incite our attention? Might we do more with ‘arts of inclusion’? How do
others capture our imagination and capacity for love in order to allow greater attention
to the more-than-human world? Much writing in the environmental humanities, such as
van Dooren and Rose’s ethographic approach (2017), seek to draw others into care —
how might they also be arts of inclusion? Or how might the arts of inclusion depend on
direct contact with the species involved, accompanied by a guide or mentor? What might
it mean to require field experience or exposure, for scholars in the humanities, who often
have little training in this?

The conference will be hosted by the Edinburgh Environmental Humanities Network
(University of Edinburgh) and will take place in person in Edinburgh from Thursday 5
September to Friday 6 September, 2024. Though both days will be devoted to panels
and plenary speakers, Thursday afternoon will also have a choice of ‘outings’ or activities,
including an attention-orientated trip to Arthur’s Seat.

Submission Process:
We welcome proposals for 15-minute papers. To propose a paper, please submit an
abstract of around 250 words and a brief speaker biography by 23 February 2024 using
this form: https://forms.office.com/e/Rv7nga7xuJ

References Cited:

Bastian, M., & Bayliss Hawitt, R. (2023). Multi-species, ecological and climate change
temporalities: Opening a dialogue with phenology. Environment and Planning
E: Nature and Space, 6(2), 1074-1097.
Chao S. and Kirksey E. (2022) Introduction. Who Benefits from Multispecies Justice?
The Promise of Multispecies Justice, Durham; Duke University Press.
Clark J.L. (2020) Attentional Deviance. Environmental Humanities, 12(2): 492–495.
Davies, T. (2022) Slow violence and toxic geographies: ‘Out of sight’ to whom?
Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, 40(2): 409-427.
Giraud E.H. (2019) What Comes after Entanglement?: Activism, Anthropocentrism, and
an Ethics of Exclusion, Durham: Duke University Press.
Krzywoszynska A. (2019) Caring for soil life in the Anthropocene: The role of
attentiveness in more-than-human ethics. Transactions of the Institute of British
Geographers, 44: 661–675.
Matamua R. (2020) Matariki and the Decolonisation of Time. Routledge Handbook of
Critical Indigenous Studies, Oxfordshire: Routledge.
Nixon R (2011) Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, Massachusetts:
Harvard University Press.
Pirmohamed A. (2022) Another Way to Split Water, Polygon: Edinburgh.
Puig de la Bellacasa, M. (2017) Matters of Care: Speculative Ethics in More than
Human Worlds, Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press.
Rose, D., van Dooren, T. (2017). Encountering a More-than-human World: Ethos and
the Arts of Witness. Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities,
Oxfordshire: Routledge, 120-128.
Sounding Soil (2023) <https://www.soundingsoil.ch/en/research/>
Todd Z. (2016) An Indigenous Feminist’s Take On The Ontological Turn: ‘Ontology’ Is
Just Another Word For Colonialism. Journal of Historical Sociology, 29: 4–22.
Tsing A. (2011) Arts of Inclusion, or, How to Love a Mushroom. Australian Humanities
Review 50: 5-22.
——— (2015) The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in
Capitalist Ruins, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
van Dooren, T., Kirksey, E., Munster, U. (2016) Multispecies Studies: Cultivating Arts of
Attentiveness. Environmental Humanities, 8(1): 1-23.
Whyte K. (2017) Indigenous Climate Change Studies: Indigenizing Futures,
Decolonizing the Anthropocene. English Language Notes, 55 (1-2): 153–162.
Yusoff, K. (2018) A Billion Black Anthropocenes Or None, Minneapolis: University of
Minnesota Press.

For any problems with your submission, please contact us at: asleuki2024@gmail.com

Please follow this link to download the call for papers.