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 (a work in progress)
Call for Papers (PDF)

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

Please submit your proposal by January 31, 2016 on-line 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.

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.

Lucy Tapahonso, Navajo Nation Poet Laureate, and author of several books of poetry, including The Women are Singing and Blue Horses Rush In. Her poetry is inspired by the idea that the feminine is a source of balance and power in the world.

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.

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.

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