Forgotten Spaces: Southern Literature, Ecocriticism, and the Commons
Panel proposed at the 2023 ASLE + AESS Conference: “Reclaiming the Commons”
July 9-12, 2023 in Portland, Oregon
The US South is often a forgotten space within ecocritical discussions, yet it provides fruitful ground for thinking about the commons. In 2019, in the first edited collection of essays on southern studies and the environment, Zackary Vernon notes that ecocritical attention to this bioregion might help “provide a way out of the limitations of thinking too locally or too globally,” in addition to bringing disenfranchised stakeholders to the table. Given, however, that both southern studies and the environmental humanities have frequently been white spaces, thinking about the commons in the south requires attention to race.
This panel seeks papers that discuss race and space in south, with an eye towards social justice and environmental issues.
Questions and topics might include:
- How have artists, writers, and cultural workers of color engaged with representing public space and the environment, and what might their creative labor contribute to wider environmental discussions attentive to social justice? How might whiteness studies contribute to a rethinking of the commons through southern spaces?
- What constitutes the commons in the south? Was there ever a southern commons?
- How are rural and urban environments represented in southern literature? Who gets access to these environments? For what?
- How are public parks, museums, and recreation areas curated in the south, and what might we learn about entanglements between race and the environment through attending to these spaces
- How might we interrogate Donna Haraway’s phrase “the plantationocene” to consider the vexed history of work and agriculture in southern spaces?
- Indian Removal and the theft of public space
- Settler colonialism in the south
- climate change and natural disasters and access to relief
- climate diasporas and migrations
- energy industries and their geopolitical impact on the south
- the military industrial complex in the south