Affiliated Symposia

In addition to our biennial conference, we sponsor smaller regional symposia in our non-conference years. If you would like ASLE to sponsor a regional conference or symposium, please see our Proposal Guidelines. To find out more about past US and international events, see our Off-Year Symposia Archives.

ASLE is sponsoring the following events in 2016:

The Heart of the Gila: Wilderness and Water in the West

June 8-11, 2016
Western New Mexico University, Silver City, NM
Call for Papers (PDF) deadline was March 15, 2016

Registration is now open:

Letting our location be our guide in focusing the theme, the Gila Wilderness was established as the nation’s first wilderness area 91 years ago and continues to define our regional identity. The Gila River remains the last free-flowing river in the Southwest, but there is a current proposal in the state legislature to dam the river; local activists have been organizing to fight the proposal. Drought, compounded by climate change, has greatly affected our area, with the largest fire in New Mexico state history occurring in the Gila during 2012.  The Gila was the northernmost region of the Mogollon People a millennium ago, and our region remains very culturally diverse with its close proximity to the Mexican-U.S. border.

We invite papers, roundtables, presentations, creative work, video presentations, and discussions from a range of disciplines and academic backgrounds that explore the past present, and future of wilderness, mythology of the West, Old West, New West, water, drought, climate change, desert, wastelands, atomic testing sites, military and western space, rivers, dams, tourism, fire, forest management, native cultures, migrant cultures, borders, activism, rhetoric of place, writers of place, writers of the West and Southwest (Aldo Leopold, Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, too many to name), wilderness philosophy, and diversity in the West. We invite participants to interpret the theme broadly. We especially welcome creative writers, activists, graduate students, and academics working in the humanities and beyond to consider submitting to the symposium.

Symposium sessions will be 90-minutes long. Both scholarly and creative submissions are welcome. Pre-formed panels are encouraged.

  • proposals for pre-formed panels must include at least four presentations (papers, readings, provocations, responses, etc.), 15 minutes-max each, plus a chair; panel organizers must submit the proposal on behalf of all panelists (500 word abstract for the panel outlining topic, format, participants’ roles; 300 word abstract for each contribution as relevant to the format; all contact information)
  • proposals for panels may also include roundtables (five or six 10 minute-max presentations plus discussion)
  • individual paper/reading/performance submissions are for 15 minute presentations; 300 word abstracts should describe both form and content and include all contact information

Deadline Extended: Please submit your proposal by March 15, 2016 online at We will notify you of its final status by March 7, 2016.  For questions about submissions, the program, the symposium site, or field trips, please contact the symposium organizer Dr. Michaelann Nelson at

Plenary Speakers
Our list of invited speakers includes writers and scholars that are inspired by the people, culture, and landscape of our region in the Southwest. The list of speakers will continue to grow as we receive confirmations from our invited guests.

David Gessner is the author of nine books, including All the Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner and the American West, as well as, My Green Manifesto, and The Tarball Chronicles, which won the 2012 Reed Award for Best Book on the Southern Environment and ASLE’s award for best book of creative writing in 2011 and 2012.

Sharman Russell, author of Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World (WILLA Award Winner), as well as a dozen other books, writes primarily about nature and the southwest. She makes her home in the Gila.

Priscilla Ybarra, author of The Good Life: Mexican American Writing and the Environment. Dr. Ybarra’s work investigates Mexican American literature and environmental issues, as well as the connections between contemporary Chicana feminist theory and environmental thought. She is a professor of English at the University of North Texas.

Phillip Connors, author of Fire Season: Field Notes From a Wilderness Lookout (National Outdoor Book Award, Sigurd Olsen Nature Writing Award), has spent the last decade as a fire lookout in the Gila National Forest. He previously was an editor at the Wall Street Journal.

Dave Foreman, founder of the direct action environmental group EarthFirst!, has written several books, including Confessions of an Eco-Warrior and Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching. He is currently the director of the Rewilding Institute, a think tank dedicated to promoting conservation and species extinction.

Travel Awards
We will offer ten awards of $250 each to graduate students and independent scholars to help defray the cost of attending the symposium. Information on how to apply for these awards can be found on the website.

Symposium Location
Western New Mexico University is a diverse, public, regional university with about 3,500 students. Silver City is located in southwestern New Mexico at 6,000 feet elevation. It is the gateway to the Gila National Wilderness Area, the United States’ first wilderness area, as well as Gila Cliff Dwelling National Monument. It is known for its vibrant art community, locavore food scene, and all-around funky downtown. It has been recently named one of the top 20 small towns to visit by Smithsonian Magazine.

Toxic Borders and Bondages: Intersecting Ecology with Capitalism, Racism, Heteropatriarchy and (Dis)possession (Graduate Symposium)

October 21 – 22, 2016
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Call for Papers (PDF), deadline April 25, 2016
Conference web site:

We invite you to join us for the first Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (ASLE) graduate student symposium. Leading up to ASLE’s 2017 biennial in Detroit, the symposium “Toxic Borders and Bondages: Intersecting Ecology with Capitalism, Racism, Heteropatriarchy and (Dis)possession” will offer graduate students the opportunity to explore the following questions.

How does the discourse and lived reality of “toxicity” redefine the borders of mind, body, and community? And indeed, what becomes coded as “toxic” and what does not? Through a provocation to erect borders and a simultaneous admonition that they will fail, the notion of toxicity urges critical inquiry into how barriers of aversion are both configured and undermined. At this symposium, we aim to collaborate across discourses and develop a space for dialogue about how toxicity broadly writ has become discursively bonded to certain natural, human, and national bodies in order to uphold systems of colonization and imperialism, racism and white supremacy, capitalist accumulation and dispossession, patriarchy and compulsory heterosexuality, and other regimes of hierarchical oppression.

Keynote addresses will be given by environmental justice scholars Julie Sze from the University of California, Davis and John Gamber from Columbia University. In order to participate, please send a paper abstract of up to 300 words to by April 25th, 2016. Please see the full Call for Papers or visit for more information.

Sharp Eyes IX
Local, Regional, Global: The Many Faces of Nature Writing


The “Blue Marble” photo from Apollo 17

June 7-9, 2016
State University of New York College at Oneonta
Call for Papers (PDF)

This conference will be the ninth in the John Burroughs Nature Writing Conference & Seminar series. The theme of this year’s conference centers on the astonishing variety of places and themes written about by literary environmentalists, from genius loci to axis mundi. For the 2016 conference we invite proposals that address this issue in any of its multiplicity of forms, including green (and blue) creative works in the genres of film, fiction, photography, film, and poetry. As always, papers on any aspect of John Burroughs’s life and work are also encouraged. Papers are delivered to plenary sessions of students, faculty, and visiting scholars. Conference field trips will include a visit to John Burroughs’s Woodchuck Lodge in Roxbury, New York, which is within walking distance of his burial site. Graduate or undergraduate credit is available through SUNY College at Oneonta.

Send abstracts or proposals by March 31, 2016, to
Daniel G. Payne, Department of English
SUNY Oneonta, Oneonta, NY 13820
E-mail submissions should be sent as an MS Word attachment to