NANO: New American Notes Online
Special Issue: The Anthropocene
Due by: December 2, 2017
Guest Editors: Kyle Wiggins and Brandon Krieg
In the Anthropocene–our geological present defined by humans as the dominant, destructive force in the natural world–calamity is familiar. As Jeremy Davies puts it in The Birth of the Anthropocene, “Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, rocks, plants, and animals are experiencing changes great enough to mark the ending of one epoch and the beginning of another” (2). We have entered a moment of environmental crisis, yet the concept of “Anthropocene” continues to be used in “diverse, contested, and even incompatible ways” and its influence on humanism and the humanities remains much debated (6).
For McKenzie Wark, the Anthropocene “is a series of metabolic rifts, where one molecule after another is extracted by labor and technique to make things for humans, but the waste products don’t return so that the cycle can renew itself again. The soil depletes, the seas recede, the climate alters, the gyre widens: a world on fire” (Molecular Red, xiv). Ironically, Wark sees opportunity in this unsettling. He argues that this age of “carbon liberation” invites a reorganization of time and material resources, one that might generate an endurable relationship between human labor and nature. Jane Bennett sees a related opportunity in the Anthropocene to extend our conception of material geology to include human bodies, noting that humans “are made of the same elements as is the planet,” and that, “Like wind or river, human individuals and groups are geologic forces that can alter the planet in countless and, as the concept of the Anthropocene marks, game-changing ways” (“Making the Geologic Now”). Bennett proposes an ethic of “self” as coextensive with other geologic material as crucial to promoting human survival: “For me, one of the effects of a heightened awareness of the interpenetration of the human and ahuman geologic is that it stretches my definition of ‘self’-interest to include the flourishing of the complex system of bio-geologic processes. This enriched understanding of ‘self’ would then, I hope, enable a more extended pursuit of our conatus, the endeavor to persist in being.” In contrast, in a most apocalyptic take, Roy Scranton argues that the “biggest problem we face” in the era of climate change “is a philosophical one: understanding that this civilization is already dead” (“Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene”). Nothing can rescue our doomed species. The time has come to rethink what it means to be human on a planet imperiled by human presence.
The aim of this NANO special issue is to explore what shape this new humanism is taking and how literature, film, art, philosophy – really the breadth of the humanities – are responding to the Anthropocene’s challenges. What does art made for a dying planet look like? Do artists, intellectuals, and critics see our species as moribund? What moral, ethical, and political challenges face citizens of the Anthropocene? What stories do we tell ourselves about civilization’s (inevitable) end? What value or purpose do such tales have? Can a new humanism save us?
This issue of NANO welcomes multimodal essays up to 4,000 words (excluding works cited) exploring topics relating to the Anthropocene, including but not limited to the following:
• art and the Anthropocene
• philosophy and carbon consumption
• the rhetoric of “sustainability” and “green living” in American consumerism
• ecocriticism, ecopoetics, and the Anthropocene
• narratives of resource depletion
• resetting civilization: the Anthropocene’s possibilities for renewal
• climate change and the American novel
• the future of criticism in the age of the Anthropocene
• extinction anxiety and popular culture
• “prepper” and aftermath/cataclysm fiction
• ethical dilemmas of the Anthropocene
• teleology, the apocalypse, and the environmental end-game
• new worlds: science fiction stories of species relocation
• charting time in the Anthropocene
• waste, wreckage, and industrial decay
• posthumanism and the Anthropocene
• the Anthropocene in the age of Trump
Direct questions to the Special Issue co-editors: Kyle Wiggins [email@example.com] and Brandon Krieg [Brandon.Krieg@westminster-mo.edu].
NANO is a multimodal journal. Therefore, we encourage submissions that include images, sound, video, data sets, or digital tools in support of a written argument. The multimodal components of the essay must be owned or licensed by the author, come from the public domain, or fall within reasonable fair use (see Stanford University Libraries’ Copyright & Fair Use site, http://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/fair-use/ and the U.S. Copyright Office’s Fair Use site, http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html for more information). NANO’s Fair Use Statement is available on its submission page, http://www.nanocrit.com/submissions-information/.
For questions about video, audio, or image usage, please contact NANO: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NANO uses modified 8th Edition MLA (Modern Language Association) formatting and style. See NANO’s Submission page for more information.
Keywords and abstract: Each author is asked to submit 5 keywords and a 150-word abstract to accompany their submission.
Deadlines concerning the special issue to be published in NANO:
• Submission deadline: December 2, 2017
• Pre-production begins February, 2018
• Publication: Spring 2018