Deadline: September 1st, 2019
Contact: Stephanie Posthumus
Email: stephanie.posthumus@mcgill.ca

L’Esprit créateur, special issue, Winter 2020

Guest-edited by Rachel Bouvet and Stephanie Posthumus

Plant Studies / Études végétales

“Par les plantes, la vie se définit d’abord comme circulation des vivants et, à cause de cela, se constitue dans la dissémination des formes, dans la différence des espèces, des royaumes, des modes de vie.” (Emanuele Coccia, La vie des plantes 22)

(Pour la version en français, voir ci-dessous)

This special issue of L’Esprit Créateur seeks to bring together recent work in plant studies and contemporary French and Francophone literature. Often relegated to the role of background scenery, plants have attracted philosophical and literary attention in light of recent scientific discoveries about plant intelligence and communication (Gagliano; Mancuso and Viola). While biologist Francis Hallé calls for a plant-centric approach in Éloge de la plante (1999), philosopher Emanuele Coccia develops a ‘mixed’ metaphysics on the principle that plants are the primary makers of our inhabitable world (2017). A well-known landscape architect, Gilles Clément argues for the importance of weeds as models of movement, adaptation, and resilience in Éloge des vagabondes (2002). As for literary scholars, they have examined the role of gender in 18th-century botany (Meeker and Szabari), the description of gardens in French literature (Bloch-Dano), and the ‘traces of the vegetal’ in the works of specific French and Francophone authors (Bouvet; Termite; Trivisani-Moreau, Taïbi, Pavie).

We invite contributions that will advance this area of scholarship by looking specifically at the ways in which plants are imagined and conceptualized in contemporary literature written in French. More specifically, we aim to move beyond the more traditional, metaphorical reading of plants to examine the ways in which plants act as agents in literary texts. How do they affect the characters, story, and setting, but also the form of the text itself? What new literary genres have emerged to explore the role of plant life, such as the botanical thriller (Nottret), the poetic encyclopedia (Le Dantec), and the literary herbarium (Sartillot)? To what extent do plants in literary texts require new forms of reading? How do these readings displace or replace the usual aesthetic concerns about literary style? In what sense do plants circulate in and with literary texts through practices of exchange and collection? And finally, what role do the sciences — botany and ecology in particular — play in the birth of a new ‘vegetal imaginary’? What place do works written by botanists like Francis Hallé and landscape artists like Gilles Clément have in literary plant studies?

By addressing these questions, the articles in this collection will explore the intersecting approaches of geopoetics, ecopoetics and ecocriticism that all seek to reassert the role of literary studies within the environmental humanities.

Please send article proposals in English or French (300-400 words) together with a short biography to Rachel Bouvet (bouvet.rachel@uqam.ca) and Stephanie Posthumus (stephanie.posthumus@mcgill.ca) by September 1st, 2019. The deadline for completed articles (max. 6,000 words) is March 1st, 2020. For more information about the guest editors, please see their Imaginaire botanique research project website (http://imaginairebotanique.ca/).

Posted on February 14, 2019