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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

CFP: Fueling Culture: Energy, History, Politics

Submissions are invited for the collection "Fueling Culture: Energy, History, Politics". This collection of scholarly essays, brief reflections, and info blurbs will focus on intersections between energy, history, and a range of cultural formations including literature, film, art, digital media, and popular culture. Abstract deadline: March 15, 2012.

Resource depletion and anxiety arenot new, nor is the paralyzing knowledge that a particular form of energy isharmful or unsustainable. How has ourrelation to energy changed over time? What differences do specific energysources make to human values and politics ? How have changing energy resourcestransformed culture?
This collection of scholarlyessays, brief reflections, and info blurbs will focus on intersections betweenenergy, history, and a range of cultural formations, including literature,film, art, digital media, and popular culture. We will include essays thattouch on a wide range of energy resources (dung, wood/charcoal, coal, tallow,plant oils, whale oil, kerosene, petroleum, natural gas, nuclear, biofuels,solar, wind, wave, steam, and human energy). We also plan to include essays onenergy resources like electricity (which circulates as a secondary form ofenergy generated by wood, coal, etc). We are also curious about dams asprojects of decolonization and modernization.
We hope for broad geographic scopein this collection, with attention to place-specific concerns and the spatialrelations entailed in different forms of energy use, including what FernandoCoronil has called the "international division of nature." If the shiftfrom wood to coal allowed for massive increases in energy consumption with lessland/woodlots devoted to energy production, as Timothy Mitchell argues, whatother shifts in scale are important for thinking about the history of energyformations? As Laurie Shannon argues in a PMLA essay on tallow, theshift from energy produced within the household to modes of energy sourcedelsewhere suggests that questions of scale are central for thinking about energy.Ken Hiltner's argument that pollution increases with the changing spatialconcentration of urban London suggests the urgency of contemplating energy inrelation to scale in earlier periods. Is it possible that all forms of energyare "dirty" when scaled up to meet demand?
The question of periodization iscrucial to this project. How do we periodize cultural production aroundmaterial resources that have been unread or elided by critics? How do questionsof energy become legible in moments of crisis? What is the role of energyscarcity and profligacy? The role of an "energy unconscious" delieatesone mode of analysis, as does the simultaneity of different modes of energyresources. Thus periodization is not a simple matter. Consider DipeshChakrabarty's attention to the coincidence of the age of Enlightenment and theAnthropocene, Mitchell's comparison of wood, coal, oil and the forms of socialand political organization they entail, and Michael Pollan's account of theshift from the sun and fossil fuels in the industrialization of food.
In addition to periodization, we'reinterested in essays that explore methodology: protocols of reading that areattuned to questions of energy (or its absence) within a given text. How do weread for energy in relation to the sociology and materiality of literaryproduction and distribution? How do we identify cultural forms that areparticularly attuned to these questions? How does energy put pressure onliterary and cultural forms? Does genre look different when we think about energy?
We hope to gather writing that ismultiply interdisciplinary, drawing on insights from political economy,political ecology, environmental history, eco-criticism, postcolonial andglobalization studies, materialisms old and new, including thing theory andactor network theory.

March15, 2012 for abstracts
December1, 2012 for essays
Length: 6000 words

(As indicated above, in additionto research essays we are interested in including shorter pieces related to anyof the issues explored in this collection).
Send Copies to:
Imre Szeman imre@ualberta.ca
Jennifer Wenzel jawenzel@umich.edu
Patsy Yaeger pyaeger@umich.edu