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Northern Topics Symposium

May 23, 2011


Environment, Culture & Place in a Rapidly Changing North
ASLE Off-Year Symposium
June 14-17, 2012
University of Alaska Southeast

We invite paper and panel proposals for the Association for the Study of
Literature and Environment’s Off-Year Symposium,  “Environment, Culture, and
Place in a Rapidly Changing North,” to be held June 14-17 at the University of
Alaska Southeast in Juneau.  Proposals related to the field of literature and
environment broadly, or to the symposium theme specifically, should include a
250-word abstract, paper title, your name, and affiliation.  Proposals for
pre-organized panels are also welcome.  Submit proposals to Sarah Jaquette Ray
( and Kevin Maier ( by November 5, 2011.

The North American “North” of Alaska and Canada is an excellent geographical
imaginary through which to understand the human-nature concerns of our time.
Ecosystems transgress national boundaries, for instance, and Northern
communities experience the symptoms of climate change disproportionately
relative to their contribution to its acceleration.  A symposium focusing on
“the North” suggests a transnational perspective of this paradox, as well as a
range of concerns, from peak oil and climate change to traditional ecological
knowledges and tourism.  While the North is often seen as an isolated place
with a unique character, safe from the economic and environmental woes of “down
south,” this imaginary belies the North’s place within transnational phenomena,
such as colonialism, global climate change, and globalization.

The symposium’s keynote speaker will be Julie Cruikshank, Professor Emerita of
Anthropology at University of British Columbia, and author of Do Glaciers
Listen? Local Knowledge, Colonial Encounters and Social Imagination.  One
secured plenary speaker, Ellen Frankenstein, will screen her documentary film,
Eating Alaska.

We welcome proposals for papers, interdisciplinary research, or creative work on
issues related to literature and the environment, and also work that explores
the North American North, addressing (but not limited to) the following themes:
the North in the environmental imagination; global indigenous environmental
movements; subsistence/food security/food justice/food cultures;
traditional/local ecological knowledges; climate change; transnational North;
animals/animality/wildlife; boundaries/borders in the North; migrations.

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