By Adeline Johns-Putra, Chair, ASLE-UKI, University of Surrey
2014 has been another busy year for ASLE (UK and Ireland). We ran a major ASLE-UKI conference in Ireland for the first time, with our postgraduate conference hosted by University College Dublin in July 2014 and ably organised by our postgraduate representatives Michael Paye of UCD and Emma Curran of the University of Surrey. The conference theme was ‘Locating Ecocriticism: Systems, Methodologies, Contexts’. Keynote speakers gave eloquent and insightful lectures on post-colonial ecologies (Pablo Mukherjee from the University of Warwick and Sharae Deckard from UCD) and eco-historicist perspectives on place, gender and race (our deputy chair, Professor Brycchan Carey of Kingston University, and Anne Milne from the University of Toronto-Scarborough).
ASLE UKI is keen to continue to support postgraduates: in 2014, we extended our efforts in this direction by establishing an annual postgraduate essay prize. Our inaugural 2014 winner was Pippa Marland of the University of Worcester with an essay on material ‘value’ and the writings of Kathleen Jamie. Pippa’s essay will appear in our journal Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism. The competition attracted many strong entries; honourable mentions were therefore made of Daniel Finch-Race (Cambridge University), Lisa Woynarski (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama), and Lisa Fitzgerald (National University of Ireland-Galway).
Our third ASLE-UKI and INSPIRE lecture on literature and sustainability took place at the Hay Festival in May 2015. This year’s lecture competition, on the theme of literature, sustainability and non-human animals, was won by novelist and academic Hayden Gabriel of the University of St Mark and St John. Hayden’s lecture is entitled ‘Animal Lives, Binary Opposition, and Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer’. Our lecture is now an established fixture at this prestigious festival, and I’m pleased to report that tickets sold out well in advance.
Our next biennial conference will run in September 2015 at Cambridge University, organised by Jenny Bavidge and Brycchan Carey. The conference, themed ‘Green Knowledge’, promises to be another exciting event, with keynotes from Ursula Heise (UCLA), Louise Westling (Oregon) and BBC environmental journalist Roger Harrabin.
Pictured below, left to right: Adeline Johns-Putra, Jane Davidson from INSPIRE at the University of Wales Trinity-St. David’s, and competition winner Hayden Gabriel