By Adeline Johns-Putra, Chair, ASLE-UKI, University of Surrey
The 2013 ASLE-UKI Annual General Meeting ushered in several changes in our leadership. Greg Garrard, having served many years as Chair, stepped down from the Executive after two years as Immediate Past Chair. Greg has been absolutely inspirational to British ecocriticism and has our very best wishes for his new life in Canada as Associate Professor of Sustainability at the University of British Columbia. Greg’s place on the Executive has been filled by our new Deputy Chair, Brycchan Carey of Kingston University. We also welcomed Lucy Collins (University College Dublin) and Jenny Bavidge (Cambridge University) to the Executive, and Emma Curran (University of Surrey) and Michael Paye (University College Dublin) as graduate student representatives.
Our eighth biennial conference took place at the University of Surrey from August 29-31, 2013. The conference attracted about 100 delegates from around the world, including the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan and China. Speaking to the conference theme of “Ecological Encounters: Agency, Identity, Interactions,” delegates presented work on climate change fiction, new materialism, ecopoetics, and animal studies, among others. Catriona Sandilands (York University) treated us to a characteristically incisive, insightful, and enjoyable keynote address on the agency of plants. Later in the conference, Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard University) and Mike Hulme (King’s College London) shared the plenary stage to discuss climate change and the public imagination. The conference ended with an advance screening of Developing the Environmental Humanities , a film by Steven Hartman of Mid-Sweden University and Peter Norrman of the Zoopeople Media Collective, Stockholm.
ASLE-UKI also awarded a graduate bursary based on the best conference proposal from a graduate student: the bursary was won by James Finley from the University of New Hampshire, with honourable mentions going to Nicholas Beuret (University of Leicester), Hannah Boast (University of York), Louise Chamberlain (University of Nottingham), Pippa Marland (University of Worcester), and Loveday Why (University of Otago).
ASLE-UKI and Falmouth University in Cornwall co-hosted a successful one-day symposium on ‘Haunted Landscapes’ in March 2014. We also supported the ‘Postcolonial Environments’ conference at the University of Manchester in January 2014 with a special graduate travel bursary.
The second ASLE-UKI and INSPIRE lecture on literature and sustainability will go ahead at the Hay Festival in May 2014. This year’s lecture will be delivered by Richard Kerridge, our founding chair, on the question of “What Can Writers Do with Climate Change?” The Hay Festival is the premier literary festival in the UK, so we’re delighted to have what now appears to be an annual slot in its schedule.
Our next biennial conference will run in September 2015 at Cambridge University. The provisional dates are 2-4 September 2015 at Murray Edwards Hall, so please look out for the call for papers from organisers Jenny Bavidge, David Whitley, and Brycchan Carey.