Biennial Conference

 

 

ASLE 2025 Biennial Conference

July 8-11, 2025
University of Maryland, College Park

Conference Theme: Collective Atmospheres: Air, Intimacy, and Inequality

 

 

Call for Proposals

Reflecting on the use of tear gas and other chemical weapons during the 2016 Standing Rock protests, Paiute scholar Kristen Simmons notes that “[t]he conditions we breathe in are collective and unequally distributed. … The atmosphere is increasingly a sphere to be weaponized.” A few years later, this weaponization became clear as the unequally-experienced COVID-19 respiratory pandemic overlapped with protests over the chokehold murder of George Floyd at the hands of police—giving heartbreaking new relevance to the Black Lives Matter rallying cry, “I can’t breathe.” Meanwhile, deforestation and air pollution are again on the rise. The Amazon rainforest, for instance—dubbed the “lungs of the world” due to its ability to absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen—has come under intensified threats. Wildfires stoked by climate change fill the air with toxic smoke. And new research finds that unhoused people are disproportionately exposed to air pollution. Breath and air, as has become palpably obvious, are phenomena necessary for life, yet often overlooked and not equally available to all. As historian Achille Mbembe states, what humanity currently faces is “a matter of no less than reconstructing a habitable earth to give all of us the breath of life.” 

Fittingly, in our fields of ecocriticism, ecomedia studies, and environmental humanities, we find a nascent wave of work attending to the idea that air/atmospheres are at once specific to our individual bodies, unequally experienced, and shared by all biotic life across time and space. This work contributes to an emerging “respiratory humanities” and “atmospheric humanities” —the latter of which, as the International Commission on Science and Literature and the International Commission on History of Meteorology recently declared in a joint call for papers, considers “the atmosphere’s agency as it becomes manifest as a medium, life-giver, carrier, nutrient source, threat and a concern in modern life, politics, and art.” Meanwhile, the prominent subfield of affect studies engages with more figurative conceptions of “atmosphere,” including mood and ambience. In sum, atmospheres become increasingly visible as sites of contestations and convergences where the intimacy of breath is bound up with wide-ranging environmental and cultural crises. 

Of course, atmospheric thinking has a very long history. The idea of “bad air” as a disease vector is an ancient one, and it persisted into the 19th century in the miasma theory of disease transmission. In the 1800s, polymath Charles Babbage wrote of the air as a “one vast library” that serves as a repository of human and more-than-human history. Scientists Simon L. Lewis and Mark A. Maslin recently concurred, suggesting with their “Orbis Hypothesis” that the European colonization of the Americas left an atmospheric trace. And since the late 1970s, the ozone layer and greenhouse gasses have been major topics of scientific as well as public concern.

We seek papers, creative works, and other forms of inquiry that engage with these concerns, broadly construed. Possible topics include but are not limited to: 

  • “Settler atmospherics” (Simmons) and Indigenous activism 
  • Climate and/as history; histories of weather 
  • Sensing air pollution; citizen science around air pollution
  • The emergence and role of the “respiratory humanities” or “atmospheric humanities” 
  • Relationship of the above to the “blue humanities,” “green ecocriticism,” and/or “energy humanities”; waves of ecocriticism
  • Aesthetics of visibility/invisibility and air 
  • Representing air inequality in haptic, olfactory, or other non-visual media
  • Unhoused populations and air inequality  
  • Environmental racism and air inequality  
  • Wildfires and smoke; prescribed burns and Indigenous fire knowledge as alternative technologies
  • Respiratory pandemics and the media
  • Rhetoric of anti-AAPI hate during COVID-19
  • Masking and dis/ability rhetoric; long COVID and “crip time”
  • Air purification technology and the commodification of air (see Yangdon Li)
  • “Atmospheric rivers,” flooding, and representation  
  • Representations of atmospheric layers (troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, exosphere) 
  • Air travel and alternatives 
  • Space environmentalism: space debris, cosmic dust, extraterrestrial exploration
  • Airwaves, radio waves, soundwaves—from podcasts to birdsong
  • Affect studies and intangible/figurative atmospheres

We also welcome work that engages in other ways with the larger concerns outlined above—including climate change, environmental health and justice, settler colonialism—and/or with the vision and mission of our organization. (See https://www.asle.org/discover-asle/vision-history/)

Confirmed keynote speakers include: 

Call Details 

ASLE welcomes proposals for the following presentation formats for our 2025 conference (described in more detail in the next section below): 

  • pre-formed panels of scholarly papers or creative readings of between 4 and 8 presenters; 
  • individual scholarly papers or creative readings, to be placed into panels; 
  • collaborative work projects, in which presenters work together on a project prior to the conference and present on that work as a panel at the conference. 

In addition, we welcome participation in special pre-conference workshops, many of which will focus on specific regional topics and collaborations. 

While the vast majority of sessions will only be available to people attending the conference in person, there will also be some virtual panels to allow people who cannot attend in person an opportunity to participate (at a lower registration cost). Plenary sessions will also be available to virtual participants, both as live streams and recorded, and a few pre-conference workshops may be available virtually. Other conference sessions will not be available virtually, as we will not be able to accommodate hybrid sessions at the conference. People who submit proposals to present at the conference in person will therefore not be able to present in those sessions virtually even if their circumstances change. 

As environmental humanists, we recognize that in-person meetings such as the ASLE conference are largely made possible by fossil fuels and thereby contribute to climate change. Guided by the goals outlined in the 2020-2026 ASLE Strategic Plan, we selected this conference site due to its relative proximity to the majority of ASLE members as well as its connectivity to interstate rail transit. Additionally, UMD campus is located on the local Purple Line light rail, and we encourage attendees to utilize it when possible. https://admin.umd.edu/initiatives-and-projects/purple-line 

Paper and Panel Submission Process 

All presentation sessions will be 90 minutes long. We will accept proposals for the 2025 conference for both pre-formed panels and individual presentations, with no preference given to one type of proposal or the other. Both scholarly and creative submissions are welcome. ASLE encourages experimentation with alternative forms of presentation, discussion, and engagement, especially in pre-formed panels. We expect to receive more proposals than we can accommodate; therefore, not all proposals will be accepted. 

Only one individual panel submission is allowed per person. Participants can present only once during the conference as part of a panel (including collaborative work project panels); facilitating or participating in a pre-conference workshop or chairing a panel do not count towards this limit. 

All presentation proposals must be submitted via the Pheedloop submission platform. Click on your submission format type below and fill out the required information. If this online submission requirement poses a significant difficulty, please contact us at 2025asleconf@gmail.com

Please read below to find specific submission information for the various presentation formats and links to their particular submission forms. 

 

Pre-Formed Panels of Paper Presentations or Readings 

Proposals for pre-formed panels of scholarly papers or creative readings must include a chair and at least four presentations of fifteen minutes each, plus discussion time. Proposals may also be made for roundtables (five or six presentations of no more than 10 minutes each, plus discussion) or paper jams (seven or eight short presentations of no more than 7-8 minutes each, plus discussion). 

Alternative formats for pre-formed panels are also encouraged, such as symposium discussion, practical workshops, visual exhibitions, interactive artistic engagements, debates, etc. Please contact ASLE Conference Chair Beatriz Rivera Barnes at 2025asleconf@gmail.com. before proposing such alternative formats. 

Panel organizers must submit an abstract of not more than 500 words outlining the proposed panel topic, format, and participants’ roles, and all participants’ contact information. Individual participants in pre-formed panel proposals must also submit their specific presentation abstract (no more than 300 words) independently, and include the name of the proposed panel with their submission, both to facilitate conference organizing logistics and in order to be considered as individual presentations if their pre-formed panel cannot be accepted. Each presenter in a pre-formed panel should also use the “Pre-formed Panel Proposals” link to submit their own individual paper abstract—do NOT use the Individual Paper Presentations link. 

To facilitate more inclusion and interdisciplinarity in pre-formed panels, we encourage people with panel ideas to post a brief call of no more than 300 words to invite presenters to apply to your proposed panel theme. Please post your panel call no later than October 10, 2022 via this link. We will post these calls on the ASLE conference website and advertise them in our publicity channels. Pre-formed panels are not guaranteed acceptance in the conference, unless they are submitted by affiliate organizations or ASLE interest groups, but if we are unable to accept a panel, the individual proposals in that panel will receive full consideration as part of the regular submission process. 

To encourage institutional diversity and exchange, all pre-formed panels must include participants from more than one institution and from more than one academic rank or sector. 

Proposals may also be submitted for virtual panels, to be posted and accessed online. Any proposals for virtual panels must be clearly indicated as such at the time of submission. Please note again that we are NOT able to accept hybrid part-virtual panels. 

Submit a Pre-formed Panel Proposal (link will be active by June 30, 2024)

Individual Paper Presentations or Readings 

Proposals may be submitted for individual paper presentations or readings, for a maximum of 15 minutes each. These presentations, if accepted, will be placed into panels. Potential presenters will be asked to indicate whether they would also be willing to participate in a roundtable (5-6 presenters per panel) or paper jam (7-8 presenters per panel) format, with shorter presentation times; willingness to participate in such formats will increase chances of acceptance. Individual proposals should include abstracts of no more than 300 words describing both the content and (if necessary) format of the proposal. 

Proposals may be submitted for virtual presentations, to be included in virtual online panels. Any proposals for virtual presentations must be clearly indicated as such at the time of submission. If you are submitting your presentation abstract as part of a pre-formed panel, do not use this link, use the one for pre-formed panel submissions! 

Submit an Individual Presentation or Reading Proposal (link will be active by June 30, 2024)

Collaborative Work Project Panels 

The 2025 conference will include the format, introduced in 2023, of collaborative work project panels, for which people will engage in significant collaborative work before the conference and present the results of that collaborative work at the conference. These panels should speak to some specific aspect of ASLE’s current strategic plan and mission, which might include: 

  • Multi-disciplinary environmental engagement; 
  • Promoting diversity; 
  • Fostering regional collaboratories; 
  • Modeling organizational sustainability; 
  • Supporting public writing and engagements. 

The submission deadline and acceptance date for collaborative work project proposals will be significantly earlier than for other presentation proposals, to allow accepted participants in those projects more time to engage in collaborative work prior to the conference. The earlier notification date will also leave people plenty of time to submit another proposal for conference presentation, if their collaborative project proposal is not accepted. 

Proposals for collaborative work project panels should describe the proposed collaboration, in an abstract of up to 1000 words, and should include between 3 and 10 collaborators (four or more collaborators is optimal). Collaborative work projects must include participants from multiple institutions, and ideally will include participants from multiple ranks, sectors, and/ or disciplines. The proposal should describe the project on which the participants will work collaboratively prior to the conference, detailing the different roles the participants will play. The proposal should also includea rough timeline for when you will complete the proposed work, together with the format in which you will present that work at the conference. 

Proposals for collaborative work project panels should also clearly indicate their relevance to ASLE’s current mission and strategic plan, in relation to the areas listed above. How groups present their collaborative work projects at the conference is up to them, but the presentations should not last more than 60 minutes total, to leave sufficient time for questions and discussion. Proposals should clearly indicate whether they are for an already existing and continuing collaborative work project or a new project—proposals of both kinds will be considered—and should include contact information and description of roles for all collaborators. In cases of already existing collaborations, project members are expected to complete significant additional work together between the time of acceptance of the work project proposal and the time of the conference. 

Proposals for collaborative work projects may be submitted for virtual presentation, to be posted online prior to the conference. Any proposals for virtual presentation must be clearly indicated as such at the time of submission. 

Submit a Collaborative Work Project Proposal (link will be active by June 30, 2024)

Workshops 

Pre-conference workshops will also be available to conference participants, for an additional $15 registration fee, with facilitators and themes set by ASLE’s invitation prior to the conference. Many but not all of the pre-conference workshops this year will focus on regional themes and collaborations. Depending on the specific workshop format, workshop participants will either do shared readings in advance of the workshop; share a short scholarly paper in advance; and/ or bring ideas and projects with them to the workshop. Participants will register for workshops on a first come/first serve basis, once registration opens, and the names of all workshop participants will be listed in the conference program—no submission form is necessary. Workshop participants may also present in another format at the conference, if they wish. 

Dates and Deadlines 

  • All proposals for pre-formed panels, individual panel presentations or readings, or poster sessions must be submitted via Pheedloop by 11:59pm PST on January 3, 2025. Any proposal for presentations in pre-formed panels that are not accepted for the conference will automatically be considered as individual presentations. 
  • All proposals for collaborative work projects must be submitted via Pheedloop by 11:59 pm PST on October 24, 2024. All participants included in these proposals will be notified by no later than November 14, 2022 whether their proposal has been accepted or not. Those whose proposals are not accepted will then be welcome to submit a proposal for another conference presentation format, if they wish, by the January 3, 2025 deadline. 
  • 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, 2025 at the latest, if possible. 
  • We will evaluate all proposals carefully and notify people of whether their proposal has been accepted by the end of the day on February 27, 2025 at the latest. 

For questions about submitting, please contact us at 2025asleconf@gmail.com


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.