13th International SAAS Conference
Understanding (Human) Nature
University of Extremadura, 5 – 7 April 2017


Abstracts are invited for the 13th International Conference of the Spanish Association for American Studies, which will be hosted by the University of Extremadura, in Cáceres. The thematic focus of this conference will focus on the understanding of (human) nature.

How can we define (human) Nature? What is implied in being human? What is a human? What have human beings done to/with/against Nature? These nagging questions have been at the core of philosophy and science since antiquity, never finding a definitive answer. In the American context, the Human / Nature seem to be a work in progress in need of constant redefinition each time a new discovery is made, a new boundary is broken. Likewise, the Western world seems at present haunted by the animal question, a question that goes on a par with the definition of what is like to be a human. Historically, women, slaves, peoples of color, the mentally unbalanced, and the disabled were deprived of their human status. The twentieth century marked by the horrors of two world wars led philosophers to the question of the human with a heightened intensity. Heidegger, Lévinas, Derrida, Agamben have been fundamental in working towards a redefinition of the human, and such was the extent towards which this debate increased that in 1966 Michel Foucault proclaimed the end of Man in The Order of Things: An Archaelogy of the Human Sciences, prompting the beginning of the posthuman turn. Is Nature still in consonance with Emerson’s romantic conception and do America’s classic images of open and wild spaces still exist?

In the midst of all these changes, American literature, art, history and culture have revealed their power to continue studying and evaluating (Human) Nature.

Given the breadth of the topic in question, we welcome papers that approach the question of (human) Nature from multiple theoretical and critical frameworks, within American Studies. Proposals for 20- minute papers can address (but are not limited to) any of the areas and topics listed below:

• Discourse and gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity, disability, class and/or species

• Literature and the consequences of the Anthropocene: climate change, species extinction, overpopulation, waste…

• A chronology of the human: from the homo sapiens to the homo ecologicus and the homo digitalis

• Rethinking the human in fantasy, science fiction and/or speculative fiction

• Rethinking the human in film, television, comic books and graphic novels

• The new others: alien, cyborgs, monsters, “freaks,” superheroes, and machines

• From cogito ergo sunt to the embodied mind and the new discourses on matter

• Questioning logocentrism

• (Re)defining and (re)negotiating the humanities after the death of Man

• Rethinking and rewriting Nature/Landscape/Environment in American ethnic literatures and studies

• The (re)presentation and (re)articulation of Nature in American Studies

• Sense of place/Belonging

• The American sublime

• From environmental crisis to devastation

• The greening of American Studies

** The conference languages will be English and Spanish **

Proposals should be submitted for specific panels, the list of which is available here. The deadline for submissions is October 15th, 2016.

For more information, visit the conference website here.