Special Issue "Environment, Ecology, Climate and ‘Nature’ in 21st Century Scottish Literature"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 September 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Carla Sassi

Associate Professor, Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, Verona University,Lungadige Porta Vittoria 41, 37129 Verona, Italy
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Modern and Contemporary Scottish Literature; nationalism and literature; postcolonial theory; ecocriticism
Guest Editor
Dr. Graeme Macdonald

Associate Professor, Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies, University of Warwick, Warwickshire, Coventry, England, UK, CV4 7AL
Website | E-Mail
Interests: world literature; energy humanities; petrofiction and petroculture; modern and contemporary Scottish and British Literature; environmental humanities

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue invites interested scholars to explore expressions and registrations of environmental culture and the eco-critical imagination in 21st century Scottish literature and culture. A broad and distinctive environmental consciousness can be traced in the field since at least the 19th century. Yet, despite some notable exceptions, critical academic engagements remain somewhat sporadic.[1] The development of modern environmentalism since the 1970s and the consequent greening of the Humanities in the subsequent decades have opened significant new critical and theoretical fronts, with prolific attention to environmental perspectives and reading strategies across the discipline of literary studies. These continue to develop in response to a number of emergent environmental concerns, such as the ongoing climate crisis and the recently declared shift into the Anthropocene epoch.

The wider context of contemporary Scottish environmentalism appears vibrant. NGOs, cultural and civic institutions, academic networks, political initiatives and policy mechanisms have sought to respond with ambition and purpose to a spectrum of environmental challenges. In places (as for example in the growing commitment to renewable energy research and development and to emissions targeting) there is a case for seeing Scotland as a radical and leading responder to climate change and to a range of other sustainability issues. There is, however, also evidence that Scotland is mired in environmentally problematic entanglements. Despite being arguably more conscious of the finitude of fossil-fuelled life than other petrocultural regions, for example, contemporary Scottish society remains very much reliant on high-carbon production processes, while a range of environmental issues, from waste disposal to fracking and land management, continue to pose questions.

How do these and other related environmental and ecological issues feature in contemporary Scottish literature and culture? Eco-spatial co-ordinates demand a range of territories, perspectives and scales: local/national/(bio)regional/‘global’/‘planetary’. They may also imply a critical repurposing; a transgressing and transcending of conventional ‘Scottish’ boundaries, temporalities, places and objects of focus—e.g. ‘nation’; ‘landscape’; ‘community’; ‘resource’—for a more environmentally and ecologically bound perspective. A host of potential examples lie across the various genres and constituencies of 21st century Scottish literature, broadly conceived (i.e. not necessarily produced by Scottish-born or Scottish-identified writers).

We invite contributions that engage with texts representing or addressing a spectrum of environmental concerns. These might range from nature writing to ecofeminism, from environmental justice to expressions of deep time and geological aesthetics, from narratives of climate apocalypse to the poetics of weather, from oceanic, ‘Blue Humanities’ readings to registrations of Scottish petroculture, from representations of landscape/plant/animal life to environmental media, from cultures of urban ecology to contemporary interpretations of wilderness, from representing waste and restoration to theorizations of contemporary consumption and resource use.

We seek articles (of around 6-8000 words) that address such themes and issues as outlined above, or in any other related areas. No fee will be charged to contributors in this special issue.

[1] See for example Louisa Gairn’s Ecology and Modern Scottish Literature (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008) and the special issue on “The Lie of the Land: Ecology and Scottish Writing” of The Bottle Imp, Issue 17, June 2015 (http://asls.arts.gla.ac.uk/SWE/TBI/TBIIssue17/Editorial17.html). See also the Envirohum project: https://simplebooklet.com/envirohum1

Prof. Carla Sassi
Dr. Graeme Macdonald
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Ecocriticism
  • Anthropocene
  • Contemporary Scottish literature
  • Local/global transition
  • Environmental Humanities
  • Climate Change / Global Warming
  • Energy production and use
  • Sustainability

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Regulating Desire: The Nature of Exhaustion in Ali Smith’s Hotel World and Ewan Morrison’s Tales from the Mall
Humanities 2019, 8(1), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8010051
Received: 12 September 2018 / Revised: 6 November 2018 / Accepted: 5 March 2019 / Published: 8 March 2019
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Abstract
This article offers an ecocritical analysis of Ali Smith’s Hotel World (2001) and Ewan Morrison’s Tales from the Mall (2012). Through a combination of the world-ecology paradigm, feminist approaches, and queer theory, I argue that these texts connect normative desires to capitalism’s “organization [...] Read more.
This article offers an ecocritical analysis of Ali Smith’s Hotel World (2001) and Ewan Morrison’s Tales from the Mall (2012). Through a combination of the world-ecology paradigm, feminist approaches, and queer theory, I argue that these texts connect normative desires to capitalism’s “organization of nature.” The opening section of the article links Nancy Fraser’s work on social reproduction to Jason Moore’s argument that nature, in world-ecological terms, provides the “free gifts” (of work, energy, and even care) necessary for capitalist productivity. Morrison’s and Smith’s texts register this dynamic, positioning hierarchy, sexism, and the uneven experience of neoliberal violence in relation to enclosure, attacks on women, and environmental destruction. I detail how Hotel World binds suburban ecology to normative regulation, while Tales from the Mall connects land clearance to the geographical organization of class inequality. I then contend that the psychological and physical exhaustion of women in both works can be understood in relation to capitalism’s reduction of nature to an appropriable resource that provides comfort and pleasure for wealthy consumers. The article ends with an examination of how the texts reject liberal fantasies of benevolent capitalist globalization in the context of Scotland specifically, indicating the need for new narratives that challenge capitalism’s ecological regime. Full article
Open AccessArticle Extractive Poetics: Marine Energies in Scottish Literature
Humanities 2019, 8(1), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8010016
Received: 26 September 2018 / Revised: 22 November 2018 / Accepted: 16 January 2019 / Published: 18 January 2019
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Abstract
Following the recent call to ‘put the ocean’s agitation and historicity back onto our mental maps and into the study of literature’ (Yaeger 2010), this article addresses the histories and cultures of marine energy extraction in modern Scottish literature. The burgeoning discipline of [...] Read more.
Following the recent call to ‘put the ocean’s agitation and historicity back onto our mental maps and into the study of literature’ (Yaeger 2010), this article addresses the histories and cultures of marine energy extraction in modern Scottish literature. The burgeoning discipline of the Energy Humanities has recently turned its attentions towards Scottish literature as a valuable area of study when contemplating the relationships between energy and cultural production. Most recently, scholars have focused their analysis on the histories of North Sea oil and gas production and have worked to juxtapose the long histories of land clearance in the Highlands and islands alongside contemporary narratives of exile and exploitation experienced by Scotland’s coastal oil communities. The forms of spatial injustice incurred through the recent histories of what Derek Gladwin terms ‘Oil Clearance’ (Gladwin 2017) or Graeme Macdonald identifies as ‘petro-marginalisation’ (Macdonald 2015), is often solely registered through terrestrial environments. This article urges the adoption of an oceanic perspective, one which registers how the extractive politics of modern petroculture in Scotland not only presents major challenges for terrestrial environments and communities, but holds specific ramifications for the ways in which we currently imagine and interact with oceanic space. Indeed, as Macdonald has noted, the North Sea is in many ways ‘wholly regarded as a productive environment of marine capitalism synonymous with oil’ (2015). What does it mean to read the ocean through oil? By adopting an oceanic perspective, this article considers the ways in which the exploitative dynamics of offshore petroculture in the 1970s coincides with an incredibly damaging and problematic cultural construction of the ocean. But as Scotland moves towards a new era of low-carbon energy production, how might this construction of the ocean change? The closing half of this article considers the ways in which the extractivist histories and spatial injustices of petroculture are resisted through contemporary poetic engagements with new marine-based energy technologies, namely, wave and tidal power. In examining a range of work from artists and poets such as Alec Finlay, Laura Watts, Lila Matsumoto and Hannah Imlach, this article further argues that the recent turn towards marine renewables not only signals a new future for a low-carbon Scotland, but that the advent of renewable technologies provides contemporary poets with new materials through which to imagine alternative models of community, power, and relation in an era of environmental change. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Perpetual Vanishing: Animal Lives in Contemporary Scottish Fiction
Humanities 2019, 8(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8010012
Received: 31 August 2018 / Revised: 8 October 2018 / Accepted: 12 January 2019 / Published: 14 January 2019
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Abstract
Animals, writes Akira Mizuta Lippit, ‘exist in a state of perpetual vanishing’: they haunt human concerns, but rarely appear as themselves. This is especially notable in contemporary Scottish fiction. While other national literatures often reflect the ‘animal turn’ in contemporary theory, the number [...] Read more.
Animals, writes Akira Mizuta Lippit, ‘exist in a state of perpetual vanishing’: they haunt human concerns, but rarely appear as themselves. This is especially notable in contemporary Scottish fiction. While other national literatures often reflect the ‘animal turn’ in contemporary theory, the number of twenty-first-century Scottish novels concerned with human–animal relations remains disproportionately small. Looking at a broad cross-section of recent and understudied novels, including Mandy Haggith’s Bear Witness (2013), Ian Stephen’s A Book of Death and Fish (2014), Andrew O’Hagan’s The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe (2010), Malachy Tallack’s The Valley at the Centre of the World (2018), James Robertson’s To Be Continued (2016), and Sarah Hall’s The Wolf Border (2015) highlights the marginalisation of both nonhuman animals and texts centred on them. The relative absence of engagement with animal studies in Scottish fiction and criticism suggests new opportunities for reevaluating the formulation of environmental concerns in a Scottish context. By moving away from the unified concepts of ‘the land’ to a perspective that includes the precarious relations between humans, nonhuman animals, and their environment, these texts highlight the need for greater, and more nuanced, engagement with fictional representations of nonhuman animals. Full article
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