Deadline for submissions: December 19, 2016

Full name / name of organization: Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE)
Contact email:
Deadline for Sumbission Extended to December 19, 2016

Rust/Resistance: Works of Recovery

Call for Papers, Association for the Study of Literature and Environment
(ASLE) Twelfth Biennial Conference
June 20 – 24, 2017

Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan

In Rust: The Longest War, Jonathan Waldman claims that, for those who “yield to rust, find beauty in rust, capitalize on rust, raise awareness of rust, and teach about rust, work is riddled with scams, lawsuits, turf battles, and unwelcome oversight. Explosions, collisions, arrests, threats, and insults abound.” Rust is the underside of cosmopolis. Rust belts follow industry and its corrosions; the parasitic Rust fungi are enemies of agriculture. And yet there is an irenic side to rust: it inspires contemplation, the search for beauty, and the effort to defend what is threatened. As an agent of time, rust sponsors stories of collapse-and-recovery, evolution-and-extinction, but it also questions them. Narratives of progress that see rust as the enemy are not universal. In Japanese aesthetics, for instance, sabi is the beauty of natural aging and aged materials; what is new is not as lovely as what has weathered. In a time obsessed by environmental apocalypse, rust may reveal other trajectories for cultures of recovery. Resurget Cineribus, “It Will Rise from the Ashes,” is the motto of Detroit—our host city.

Long associated with steel, car culture, and the music of Motown, Detroit is also a site of struggle for racial and environmental justice, against depopulation and “ruin porn,” and for the preservation of artistic heritage. A nexus of encounters between indigenous nations and the French fur trade, it became a locus of the Great Migration, “white flight,” and gentrification. Water-rich on the strait between Lake Huron and Lake Erie, Detroit and its neighbors struggle against corroded infrastructure and government corruption. For all those reasons, Detroit is an ideal place to confer about rust, resistance, and recovery. We invite participants to interpret the conference theme as broadly as possible and to imagine their work in terms of content and form. We particularly encourage non-traditional modes of presentation, including hybrid, performative and collaborative works; panels that minimize formal presentation in favor of engaged emergent discussion; interdisciplinary approaches; environmentally inflected readings of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, film, theatre and other media; and proposals from outside the academic humanities, including submissions from artists, writers, teachers, practitioners, activists and colleagues in the social and natural sciences. Topics may include, but are certainly not limited to:

The literatures, arts, and cultures of the Rust Belt, the Great Lakes, and Appalachia.
Transnational rust
Elemental rust
Labor and rust
Aeons of rust
The arts and sciences of resistance
Methods of resistance
Genres of resistance
Recovering ecological citizenship
Recovering lost lands
Recovering past and future

Keynote Speakers/Panelists:

Our list of keynote speakers includes scholars, activists and writers working on/in different forms of resistance and recovery: humor and the new American nature writing; the Transcendentalist and Humboldtian lineages in the environmental humanities; poetry and urban gardening; indigenous rights, climate fiction, and climate change; the history of slavery and the Detroit River; and cultural sustainability through the Digital Humanities. Confirmed speakers include Michael Branch, Ross Gay, Tiya Miles, Siobhan Senier, Laura Dassow Walls, and Kyle Powys Whyte.

Panel and Paper Submission:

For additional information and to submit a pre-formed panel or individual presentation, please visit the conference website at All conference sessions will be 90-minutes long. ASLE strongly encourages presenters to create pre-formed panels and to experiment with alternative forms of presentation, discussion and engagement. Both scholarly and creative submissions are welcome. We expect to receive more proposals than we can accommodate; therefore, not all proposals will be accepted. Proposals for fully constituted panels will be given priority over individual paper proposals; please note that there are separate tabs for panel proposal submission and individual paper submission on the submissions website.

Only one proposal submission is allowed per person; participants can present only once during the conference (pre-conference seminars/workshops and chairing a panel not included).
Proposals must be submitted online at; in cases in which this requirement poses a significant difficulty, please contact Christoph Irmscher and Anthony Lioi, as above.
ASLE policy is currently to discourage virtual participation at our biennial conferences except in extraordinary circumstances.
Deadline Extended: All proposals must be submitted by December 19, 2016.

We will evaluate your proposal carefully and notify you of its final status by February 15, 2017. If you are a panel organizer and would like a panel CFP posted to the ASLE website, or if you are an individual interested in submitting to a panel call for papers, please use our Panel Call for Papers page:

Note: you must be or become a member of ASLE by the time of registration to present at the conference. Join or check your membership status at For questions, please contact 2017 ASLE Presidents Christoph Irmscher and Anthony Lioi at

Conference Events and Activities:

Banquet and dance at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
Special panel on water + activism in Detroit
Field trip options, including the Underground Railroad Living Museum, Arab American National Museum, an urban garden tour, cycling, running, and volunteering for a local group
Progressive evening in Midtown Detroit, including a radical poetry reading at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD)
Special movie screening of Watermark at the Detroit Film Theater in the Detroit Institute of Arts