CFP: BSLS Winter Symposium 2019

Extinctions and Rebellions

Saturday 16th November 2019

University of Liverpool

Organisers: Anna Burton and Sally Blackburn-Daniels

“We are at a time in history where everyone with any insight of the climate crisis that threatens our civilisation – and the entire biosphere – must speak out in clear language, no matter how uncomfortable and unprofitable that may be.”

In 2019, extinction is no longer the province of dinosaurs, the Dodo, or species far away in space and time. As Greta Thunberg argued in her Davos speech earlier this year, and as the ongoing socio-political efforts of the Extinction Rebellion suggest, extinction of the human (as well as the non-human) is an immediate concern and a very possible outcome of the climate crisis, unless significant action is taken by all. With this in mind, the ‘Extinctions and Rebellions’ symposium will think about the varied cultural discourses of extinction, past and present. It will not only be a platform to discuss current environmental and ecological concerns of the Anthropocene in the cultural imagination, but it also offers a space to think about how previous literary and scientific forms have imagined extinction as a process or finality, and how these conversations speak to and could offer a means to think about our current climate crisis. Moreover, we will explore ‘extinction’ and ‘rebellion’ as they pertain to questions of literary form and scientific theory and practice. This one-day event will allow postgraduates, early-career researchers, and academics to think about how the sciences and humanities can work together, inform, and facilitate the “clear language” needed to rebel against human and non-human extinction.

The questions presented by this symposium theme are relevant to all researchers, and we welcome delegates from varied career stages to allow for a diverse discussion. However, ‘Extinctions and Rebellions’ will also focus on how researchers in the earlier phases of their career can start (or continue) to think about the relevance and impacts of their work. The question of ‘Impact’ for REF2021 is one often discussed by established academics, but through a ‘Literature, Science, and Impact’ roundtable, this event will encourage postgraduates and ECRs to discuss the ways in which this field and their work can create changes to thinking and behaviours, and what this can mean for their future research too.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Non-human Species and Ecological Biodiversity
  • Climate Crisis, Environmentalism, and the Anthropocene
  • Imagining the End of the World and/or the Apocalypse
  • Scientific Extinctions (discourses that have been disproved or are no longer relevant)
  • Extinct or Dormant Literary Forms (which have a bearing on science)
  • Transhumanism and/or Posthumanism (ways of extending life and humanity beyond extinction using technology)
  • Creative writing and Extinction

We welcome proposals for 20 minute papers. Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words to bslsrebellions@gmail.com by Monday 23rd September 2019, accompanied by a short biography (100 words). We are also seeking a couple of  kind volunteers for the Impact Roundtable, so if interested in participating, please get in touch!

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