CALL FOR PAPERS – The environment and the (post)human in Scotland

francescotlandTHE SFEEc (Société Française d’Études Écossaises), and the Association for Scottish Literary Studies

CALL FOR PAPERS: ‘The environment and the (post)human in Scotland. Representing nature and the living’

Annual International Conference, 17th to 19th October 2013 Université de Franche-Comté, Besançon

This international conference will explore how the environment — the land and nature — has been represented and considered throughout the ages and how the environment has often assumed a key position in Scotland’s artistic, political, social and cultural expression. Our aim is to see how these elements can be understood in their relationship to human beings — to their past and present existence, their future and their evolution: the human or posthuman dimensions.

Nature and the environment lie at the core of our current concerns and scientific paradigms. Political speeches or policies, packed with ecological concerns and considerations, have often advocated a return to nature. Scottish history, civilization, politics, art, literature and cinema will provide us with the means to explore these themes.

Throughout the ages, the environment and the notion of territory have often been considered as necessary to the manifestation of a Scottish identity or to the expression of specifically Scottish traits. It is possible to consider the land in a nationalist light: as a place of belonging and as an illustration of the intimate links that are claimed by some — or the intimate links that some claim to enjoy with the nation and its history. The land has often been used as a means of expression for nationalist and independent rhetoric or politics.

Nature and the environment can also be explored through the prism of Scottish history and the concomitant narratives of Scottishness. For instance the development of the nation can be charted through human transformations of the natural landscape and how these have in their turn impacted upon the perception and self-perception of the Scottish people. Indeed, before its Romantic, post-bellum recuperation as synecdoche of the nation, the Highlands and its inhabitants were long figured and often branded as the mysterious and frightening “Other”. During the nineteenth century, in the name of Improvement, the Highlands were transformed forever as crops and farming methods were altered and glens emptied, while the industrial revolution radically redesigned the Lowlands, modifying lifestyles and living conditions and irrevocably expanding the urban environment.

Today nature often seems entirely absent from the steel and concrete cityscapes of Scotland’s great urban centres. The contemporary metropolis has become a site of never-ending cultural and social change where the relationship between man and machine, be it car or computer, seems to be in a state of constant flux.

Nature and the environment also represent potential threats to the very existence of humanity, through natural or man-made disasters. The awesome power of nature ultimately places it beyond man’s control. The result is a potentially posthuman world, made up of adaptations and mutations, of disintegration and the disappearance of humanity or of cultures, or the birth of a new type of society or species.

Papers are invited from a wide range of approaches and angles which may include the following themes: Scottish literature; Travel writing in Scotland; Science fiction; fantasy; political speeches; propaganda; ideology; nationalism; devolution; Scottish history; ecology; ecocriticism; urbanism; cinema; theatre; painting; museography; new technologies; posthuman; hybridity.

Abstracts (250 words max. / 20mn papers) should be submitted by email before 20 April 2013 to philippe_laplace@hotmail.com

Please also include a short cv-bibliography of your works. Papers will be published in the conference proceedings.
All rooms will be equipped with a projector and a DVD-drive. Thank you for indicating if you require Internet connection.
UFR SLHS 30-32 rue Mégevand 25000 Besançon

For more information, see: http://ecosse2013.univ-fcomte.fr (from April 2013)

The Université of Franche-Comté (with the help of the Region) should normally be able to cover some travel expenses to/from Besançon, accommodation and most catering expenses in Besançon. The registration fee is 30 euros.