ASLE Conference in Portland, Oregon

ASLE & AESS in 2023: 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 in Portland, Oregon on July 9-12, 2023 at the Oregon Convention Center. The theme of the conference will be “Reclaiming the Commons.”  This event will offer opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration, networking and professional development with a variety of sessions sponsored by both organizations.  The Call for Proposals is below, and registration will open in early 2023.  Other details can be found on the respective websites: and

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?

Call Details

The Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE) is excited to collaborate in 2023 in a joint conference with the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS).  Many presentation formats will include both ASLE and AESS members together.  ASLE is a diverse professional community that is enriched by the multiple experiences, cultures, and backgrounds of its members, and we strive for access, equity, and inclusion in the conference.

ASLE welcomes proposals for the following presentation formats for our 2023 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;
  • scholarly/creative posters for participation in a poster session;
  • 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.

Paper, Poster, and Panel Submission Process

All presentation sessions will be 90 minutes long. We will accept proposals for the 2023 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 or poster submission is allowed per person. Participants can present only once during the conference as part of a panel (including collaborative work project panels) or poster session; facilitating or participating in a pre-conference workshop or chairing a panel do not count towards this limit.