CALL FOR PAPERS – Environmental Crisis and Human Costs: Homage to Rachel Carson in the 50th Anniversary of Silent Spring

October 1, 2012.  BIENNIAL EAAS CONFERENCE: The Health of the Nation, 30 March – 2 April, İzmir, Turkey.  Speakers must be members of their national American Studies association if there exists one in their home country. Speakers from Canada, Israel, Japan, and the USA must be members of their respective American Studies associations, or of another organization with an appropriate focus (OAH, APSA, etc.). See EAAS (European Association for American Studies) website:

Workshop 3:  Environmental Crisis and Human Costs: Homage to Rachel Carson in the 50th Anniversary of Silent Spring

Chairs:  Ufuk Őzdăg, Hacettepe University, Turkey ( and Carmen Flys Junquera, University of Alcalá, Spain (

Silence has been broken: the linkage between environmental devastation and health disruption is finally on the public health agenda. One striking fact is the conclusion reached by the World Health Organization (WHO): “at least 80 percent of all cancer is attributable to environmental influences.” (Sandra Steingraber, Living Downstream)  This linkage between health and environment, at the beginning of the second decade of a new millennium, has incessantly been brought to public attention with past nuclear catastrophes and ensuing violent alterations in the ecosystems (such as the ones at Three Mile Island, Nevada Test Site, and Chernobyl); with the detrimental effects of the global use of pesticides; with the disasters of synthetic chemicals (notwithstanding their cumulative effects),  all connected to the the escalating rates of deadly diseases.

The linkage is conspicuous, but widespread public awareness owes much to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring—the book that launched the environmental movement half a century ago with its deep documentation of pesticide damage to human health and to the natural environment. Carson, in her narration of pesticide use that threatens body ecosystems and natural ecosystems–an unprecedented intertwining of scientific knowledge with poetic sensibilities—has become a pioneer of biospheric health. Writers/scientists following Carson’s footsteps, such as Sandra Steingraber and Theo Colborn, have currently made human health issues the main focus of mainstream environmentalism in the West. Steingraber, with her Living Downstream: A Scientist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment; and Colborn, Dumanoski, and Myers, with their Our Stolen Future: How We Are Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence and Survival, have continued Carson’s legacy into a new millennium. In these works, the intertwined ecologies of the human body and the earth body define the health of the ecosystems.

This very health and environment linkage has grown into an increasing concern, thanks to not only groundbreaking non-fiction books by writers such as Terry Tempest Williams (Refuge. An Unnatural History of Family and Place), but also to diverse fictional literary works which  explore and denounce this linkage such as Ana Castillo’s So Far from God, Cherrie Moraga’s Heroes and Saints, Barbara Neely’s Blanche Cleans Up, Ruth Ozeki’s My Year of Meats, or Lucha Corpi’s Cactus Blood, just to name a few.

This workshop invites papers on the impact of environmental derangement on human health, in American environmental literatures (both fiction and nonfiction), bringing the inextricable link between human and environment–that Stacy Alaimo has articulated as trans-corporeality–to the forefront, and aims at strengthening the dialogue between sciences and humanities for a topic that is likely to become the most pressing ethical and political concern for decades to come. Proposals should be sent to both workshop organizers by October 1, 2011.