The concept of the “Anthropocene” brought attention to the profound impact humans have had on our ecosystems, as mediated by cultural concepts of nature, while posthumanism rejects a dichotomy between nature and culture and understands the human as entangled with the environment. An intersectional focus on children’s literature and culture reveals how children are cast as both vulnerable to environmental destruction and as powerful agents of environmental change. As humankind faces environmental challenges of terrifying scale, the 2023 IRSCL Congress theme, “Ecologies of Childhood,” seeks to bring out the ways in which childhood and ecology prove mutually imbricated in language, literature, and education.
From a historical perspective, ‘ecologies of childhood’ in literature are not new. In China, Japan, and Korea, the concept of the ‘child mind’ drove philosophers and poets to suggest ways of interacting with the world that were deemed more ‘natural.’ In Europe, Rousseau and Romanticism reconceptualized the child’s relationship to nature, which nonetheless remains problematic from an ecocritical perspective, while subsequent Robinsonades for children demonstrate an exploitative colonial attitude toward nature and Indigenous experience. Decolonial perspectives in the Global South reveal how environmental history is intertwined with colonial history, while Indigenous voices worldwide offer alternative childhood ecologies. Around the world, national literary traditions have unique formulations of children’s relationship to nature and the environment, rooted in philosophical traditions both steeped in the local and transformed by the transnational and global.
We invite papers that engage in historical and global perspectives on ‘ecologies of childhood’ in children’s literature and culture, as informed by environmentalism, ecocriticism, ecofeminism, decolonial environmentalism, posthumanism, environmental justice, environmental activism, and environmental education, or that explore the prehistory of the Anthropocene, energy humanities, or climate change. We suggest that ecologies of childhood are best approached from the vantage point of diverse international traditions, while our theme seeks to expand the critical conversation around contemporary issues along global parameters. This topic intends to be broadly inclusive over space and time, while tackling climate crisis as a contemporary and truly global problem. In this vein, we suggest, but are not restricted to, the following topics:
NATURE, PLANT, AND ANIMAL STUDIES:
ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENTALISM:
ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AND ACTIVISM:
THE ANTHROPOCENE AND CLIMATE CHANGE:
Proposals for complete panels and individual papers will be accepted beginning on 1 September 2022 until the submission deadline of 1 December 2022.
Instructions: Proposals for complete panels (of three to four papers and a designated chair) and for individual papers will be accepted. Individual proposals for presenting a paper (20 min. max) will require an abstract (250 word max) and a brief presenter bio (100 word max). Panel proposals will require a panel description (100 words), abstracts (250 word max) for 3-4 papers (20 mins max), and brief bios (100 word max) for each presenter and a designated chair. Submission of complete panels is highly recommended and is likely to increase the acceptance rate. Submitters will be asked to indicate in which of the 4 streams above the paper or panel belongs. Individual presenters will be asked about their willingness to serve as a panel chair, if needed.
Presentation Mode: Paper or panel submitters will be asked to indicate a presentation mode for the paper or entire panel. To accommodate scholars who know in advance that they will be unable to travel, we plan to offer a separate digital conference alternative, called a Green Stream,* which will allow accepted and registered participants the opportunity to upload pre-recorded presentations by July 15, 2023 for asynchronous viewing via a digital platform before and/or after the 2023 IRSCL Congress. This asynchronous pre-recorded format will offer less interactivity, however, so we highly recommend attending the on-site congress if you are able to travel. Commitment to presentation mode is binding after submission and switching from one mode to another at a later date will not be permitted. The two alternatives we are offering should be considered as separate and different experiences. The digital option will not allow virtual access to the on-site congress apart from a few selected highlights, such as keynotes, that we hope to share with all participants if possible. However, registered on-site participants will receive access to both on-site and digital components.
* Like organizers of other large conferences arranged by kindred scholarly organizations, IRSCL 2023 organizers have concluded that we are not able to offer a simultaneously virtual and in-person congress, because of the prohibitive cost, technological challenges, and organizational complexity of coordinating two types of large conferences at once, as well as the risk of delivering a compromised experience to both participant categories. After careful consideration, and a desire to offer accommodation to those who cannot travel, we have decided to offer this digital Green Stream, which we hope will still offer scholarly opportunities to those who cannot travel and even expand access to scholarship.