Biennial Conference

ASLE + AESS Conference: Reclaiming the Commons

July 9-12, 2023
Oregon Convention Center, Portland, Oregon

The Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE) and The Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS) are excited to announce that they will hold their next conference jointly. The theme is “Reclaiming the Commons,” and the event will offer opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration, networking, and professional development with a variety of sessions sponsored by both organizations. Other information can be found below and at, and will be updated as it becomes available.

  • Notifications of proposal status FOR ASLE SUBMISSIONS ONLY were sent on February 14, 2023. If you submitted via an ASLE portal and did not receive a decision, please contact us at [email protected]. AESS notifications were sent in early March, contact [email protected] if you have not heard from them.
  • The deadline for submissions was January 10. Registration will open in March 2023.
  • Looking for details on registration, travel awards, graduate student writing awards, or exhibiting, advertising, and sponsorship opportunities? Visit the Participant Information Page
  • Looking for details on the schedule and program, plenary speakers, workshops, authors’ reception, publisher exhibit, and other events? Visit the Schedule and Events Page
  • Looking for details on transportation, lodging, dining, and the city of Portland? Visit the Travel and Stay Page
  • Want to connect with other attendees about rideshares, roomshares, childcare/sitter sharing, meetups?  Use THIS LINK to post/search under your preferred topic at the padlet message board.


We are excited to share the topics and leaders for the 2023 conference program. More information on how to register, and full workshop descriptions, are found on the Schedule and Events Page, open the Workshops tab.

In-Person Workshops (July 9, 9am-12pm)

  • Ecopoetics Today: Place, Identity, Social Justice, Led by Rina Garcia Chua and Nicholas Bradley
  • How to Do Empirical Ecocriticism, Led by Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, Alexa Weik von Mossner, and W.P. Malecki
  • Niimiwim, ‘The Art of Dancing’ with Indigenous Futurisms, Led by Grace L. Dillon (Anishinaabe)
  • Oceanic Ecologies and Pacific Resurgence, Led by Aimee Bahng
  • Storytelling as Indigenous Methodology, Led by Theresa May and Marta Lu Clifford
    (Cree, Chinook, Grand Ronde)
  • Visualizing Fire Futures, Led by Andreas Rutkauskas, Jenn Ladino, and Erin James
  • Writing and Painting with Rocks: Embodying Deep Time,  Led by Allison Cobb and Daniela Molnar

Virtual Workshops (dates/times TBA):

  • Writing the Commons in a Bioregional Frame: Global Regional Exchange from Appalachia to the Aegean to Your Back Porch, Led by Mary Hufford, Betsy Taylor, and Maria Bareli (
  • Bioregional Energy Humanities, Led by Jeffrey Insko
  • Degrowth University: Structure, Curriculum, Pedagogy, Led by Pablo Mukherjee

2023 Travel Awards
ASLE will make twelve (12) $500 travel awards available to accepted conference presenters. The purpose of the travel award is to substantively support members who are in precarious employment or students, who lack institutional funding, and who can reasonably demonstrate that an award will make attending the conference possible. The eligibility requirements, instructions and application form link are posted on our Participant Information page.  Deadline for applications is March 22, 2023.

Conference Theme: Reclaiming the Commons

In light of the increased biological and political vulnerabilities of our times, the environmental humanities seek to reassess what it means to care for the commons and how the commons are conceptualized—whether it be terrestrial, aquatic, atmospheric or sociocultural. We are faced with the challenge to renew the bonds of community and to inspire the affections of care that can move us beyond the insulation and fragmentation of the present. How might we restore attention to the commons? How can we take full advantage of a deeper self-examination and rekindling of affections for place that has been facilitated ironically by the pandemic? How might individual and planetary vulnerabilities transform into opportunities for collective strength? And in ongoing colonial settings, how can the commons be reconfigured as a decolonial project, that takes into account the widespread historical exclusion and dispossession of Indigenous groups and often unequal access to postcolonial commons?

The interpenetration of land and water in islands, their often archipelagic formation, and their situatedness in postcolonial and decolonial contexts have generated relational modes of thinking for artists, writers, activists and theorists who seek to move us beyond limiting epistemological and political boundaries. These relational modes seek to restore and renew commitments to ecological thought, action, and what Marisol de la Cadena calls “uncommonalities.” A testament to the powerful work of Indigenous scientists, activists, and thinkers, these efforts are one source of inspiration in this time of increased isolation as they manifest a reclaiming of the commons—regionally, historically, politically and economically—and a renewed connection between the human and more-than-human community.

We seek papers, creative work, and other forms of scholarly engagement that approach literature, cultural artifacts, infrastructures, geographies, watersheds, borderwaters, atmospheres, and oceans as methods for reclaiming the commons and instilling and motivating a politics of care in our time. We seek understanding about the various ways in which we as scholars, activists, and artists can rise to the challenge of building community, extend our voices into new arenas, and leverage the insights of the humanities into the practices of our various cultures. We seek discussions that highlight the ways in which, during the recent covid-imposed period of isolation and its aftermath, communities have been or may be rebuilt and strengthened, especially between the human and more-than-human, the academy and local communities, the humanities and the sciences, metropolitan centers of power and the Global South, between and among regional institutions, and across languages and epistemologies. We seek papers that will explore the role of the public humanist, the public role of scientific and climate literacy, and the social, political, and scientific obligations of the scholar and artist as part of the larger project of reclaiming commons. Finally, we seek historically situated work that considers the long global history of commons.

Other questions related to the theme of reclaiming the commons include:

  • What are the community and regional obligations of the academic and the university to broader forms of commons?
  • How can we translate the language of the academy into accessible language and actionable practice in local and vernacular contexts?
  • How can we incorporate the contexts of the Global South in reclaiming the commons, and how can we create relational modes of imagining that stem from collaborative conversations, engagements and commitments?
  • How can the language of science be brought to bear in the political and cultural work of reclaiming the commons?
  • How can service and problem-solving become more central to the work of scholarship?
  • How can the work of the environmental humanities become more influential politically and culturally?
  • How might environmental scholarship become more multilingual and interdisciplinary, extending engagements with the commons beyond narrow and often exclusive cultural and disciplinary silos?
  • What are the risks associated with such efforts?

Conference keynote speakers will explore interconnections between the sciences and the humanities and address concerns of activists and artists who bridge the gap between the academy and the public, engaging in various ways with the conference theme of reclaiming the commons.

Already confirmed keynote speakers include:

Elizabeth DeLoughrey specializes in Island Studies, focusing especially on the Caribbean and Pacific Islands. She will give a joint plenary with AESS speaker Alejandro Frid, an ocean ecologist and science director of the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance.

Cristina Rivera Garza is a Mexican fiction writer, historian, and activist.

David James Duncan, is author of the novels The River Why, The Brothers K, and the forthcoming (August 2023) Sun House. 

Jay Julius (W’tot Lhem) is fisherman and former Chairman and Councilman at Lummi Nation. Jay was a leader in the successful fight to protect Xwe’chi’eXen (Cherry Point) from what would have been North America’s largest coal terminal. He has organized and executed Tribal, local, regional, and national campaigns. A bridge-builder, he uses empathy and storytelling to bring people together. He is the President of the Indigenous-led nonprofit Se’Si’Le and Principal at Julius Consulting LLC. He will speak at a “Commons Salmon” keynote with Carol Craig.

Carol Craig is a Yakama tribal member sharing tribal information through public outreach. She has received several journalism awards and was the only person nominated twice to receive Ecotrust’s Indigenous award. She is a journalist and photographer for the tribal newspaper Yakama Nation Review.

Our speakers engage with the intersections of archipelagoes thinking, environmental and climate justice, the Global South vis-à-vis the Global North, Indigenous and border studies, and activism. Their work challenges disciplinary, language, and textual boundaries that seek to compartmentalize knowledge and cultures, as well as to dissociate humans from non-humans, the North from the South, and Western from non-Western epistemologies. In this sense, their work builds on and connects isolated cultural spheres in order to bring them together and create an archipelago of knowledge, voices and mutual understandings as part of the larger project of reclaiming the commons.

Dates and Deadlines

  • All proposals for pre-formed panels, individual panel presentations or readings, or poster sessions must be submitted via Pheedloop by the extended deadline of 11:59pm PST on January 10, 2023.
  • If you submitted a proposal but then discover you can no longer attend the conference, please inform the organizer of your panel (if relevant) and ASLE of withdrawal by the end of the day on January 30, 2023 at the latest, if possible.
  • Notifications of proposal status will be sent by February 27, 2023 at the latest.

For questions about submitting, please contact us at [email protected].

The Oregon Convention Center (OCC) is an LEED Platinum Certified Facility and a pioneer in creating a space for green and sustainable meetings. Their commitments include energy reduction and solar power utilization, landfill waste minimization and recycling, watershed stewardship, air quality, supply chain carbon footprint reduction and community engagement. You can read more about why they make such a good partner for our organization here:

The space also has onsite restaurants, cafes and outdoor seating, with many other food choices right nearby. There are walking options and parks in the neighborhood. Public transportation stops right at the OCC to make exploring the city easy. We are reserving hotel blocks in adjacent facilities to minimize driving, and planning on securing dormitory space at nearby Portland State University, which is only a 20-minute MAX light rail ride away.

Portland possesses an international airport close to downtown with many direct flight connections and multiple public transportation options (see There is also a drop-in day care center near the OCC that could be a boon to parents with young children (WeVillage, ).

Recorded Plenaries, Workshops, and Events from the 2021 Conference are available in the Conference Archive. For information on all past conferences, see the Conference Archive.

I first attended and presented at ASLE at the 2009 conference in Victoria, BC.  At the time, I was a Master’s student and didn’t yet know whether I wanted to pursue studies in the field of environmental literature, or even a career in academia more broadly. After five days of amazing conference panels, intellectually stimulating conversations, and fun hiking adventures, I was certain that I had chosen the right field and the right profession.  Now, attending ASLE conferences truly feels like coming home. I would not be where I am today without ASLE, an organization that is welcoming of all perspectives, all methodologies, and scholars at all stages of their careers. – Stephen Siperstein (English Teacher, Choate Rosemary Hall)

ASLE welcomes proposals to host both our biennial conferences and off-year affiliated symposia.

Biennial Conference Proposal Guidelines
These guidelines are to assist potential hosts in formulating a complete and compelling proposal for our large biennial conference.

Off-Year ASLE Symposia Guidelines
Details of how to submit a proposal for an ASLE seed grant or ASLE affiliation to assist with your own smaller symposium in non-conference years (even years).

Sustainability at Conferences
ASLE is committed to making our conferences as sustainable as possible. Please consult this document if you are considering proposing a Biennial or Off-Year ASLE Conference.

Accessibility at Conferences
ASLE is committed to making our conferences as accessible as possible. Please consult this document if you are considering proposing a Biennial or Off-Year ASLE Conference.

2023 Biennial Conference

July 9-12, 2023