“We have deprived nature of its independence, and that is fatal to its meaning,” wrote Bill McKibben in 1989. The End of Nature, one of the first books to discuss global warming for a popular audience, argued that human activity had irrevocably destroyed the autonomy of the nonhuman world, and with it everything that nature was thought to signify: “Nature’s independence is its meaning; without it, there is nothing but us.” But in the three decades since, the meaning of “nature” and its relation to “us” has been a topic of contestation and increasing urgency. In the shadow of accelerating climate change, mass extinction and resource scarcity, disciplines across the humanities have investigated the myriad ways individuals and societies interact with their environments. Humans have been understood as inhabitants, interpreters, inventors, custodians, masters or destroyers of the natural world, and each of these roles produces different representations, practices and consequences. Has nature ever been independent from the meanings we ascribe to it? Is nature an invention of culture? Is culture a product of nature? Or does it no longer make sense to separate the two?
For this issue of Junctions, we invite papers and book reviews that tackle the meanings, histories, politics, representations, and agencies that have shaped the courses of nature. We encourage you to take an expansive view of what this theme encompasses: nature is involved with everything from the human body to planetary systems, from wild landscapes to urban ecologies, from companion animals to deep-sea creatures, from gender politics to climate crisis, from new technologies to traditional practices, from art to science and back again. It is a concept that has preoccupied philosophers and artists of every period, entangled with questions of epistemology and ontology, of representation and reality. But many humanities scholars have also critiqued nature as an idea that has been used to justify inequalities and mask power relations, arguing that what we call “natural” is often or always a projection of society. Approaches to this theme might take a critical or an affirmative view of the natural; they might analyze the construction of human and nonhuman natures, investigate the theoretical implications of different definitions of nature, or engage with a particular aspect of the natural world in its own right. We hope that they will explore, expand and enrich the possibilities of what nature can mean and the courses it might take.
We urge students to engage imaginatively with this theme in accordance with their field of interest and expertise. Possible topics might include, but are not limited to:
- Histories of nature – what counts as natural in different times and places?
- Representations of nature – how has the natural world been depicted in particular periods, genres, styles or media?
- Rhetorics of nature – what political work does nature do in public discourse? What do appeals to ‘the natural’ imply in particular contexts?
- Technologies and nature – how does technology alter, defy, extend or imitate nature, and how do new technological developments change the concept of the natural?
- Spaces of nature – what landscapes and ecologies do we understand as natural and why? How does the idea of nature configure relations between rural/urban, private/public, inside/outside?
- Commodifications of nature – how is the natural world materially altered, exploited or (re)produced in relations between labour and capital?
- Ethics of nature – how can we apply concepts of justice, rights or morality to nature, and what challenges does environmental crisis pose to these frameworks?
- Activism and nature – what modes of political action and resistance have been used to defend the natural world?
- Humanism, posthumanism, and the nonhuman – how has the status of the human been understood within or against nature, and how does posthumanism rework the nature/culture binary? How can we approach the problem of anthropocentrism and account for nonhuman agency within the humanities?
- Nature in the Anthropocene – how useful is the concept of the Anthropocene (the geological epoch defined by human activity) to the humanities? How has the Anthropocene changed our understandings of nature?
- Naturalistic epistemology – how have methods and theories from natural sciences been put to use in the humanities? What are the implications of drawing on natural science for humanities scholars?
- The material/ontological turn – how do recent theoretical approaches to the body, matter, and subjectivity, such as new materialism, deal with the question of nature?
In light of increasing scholarly attention to this topic, we especially encourage book reviews of recent publications.
Junctions aims to connect the different disciplines of the Humanities by collecting disciplinary and interdisciplinary texts that are accessible to readers from across the Humanities. This gives you the opportunity to gain valuable publishing, editing and reviewing experience. Everyone who submits an article to Junctions will receive feedback from our reviewers, and if your work is selected for publication, the editors will guide you through the different stages of editing to produce a professional article and begin your academic CV.
Please send a digital copy of the complete manuscript in Chicago author-date referencing style, following the guidelines provided at http://junctionsjournal.org/submit/guidelines-for-authors/, to email@example.com by November 16. After double-blind reviewing, accepted articles will undergo a revision process which will conclude with the publication of the journal issue. Should you have any questions regarding the Call for Papers, or want some advice, we will hold a Q&A session – date to be announced. Please let us know if you wish to participate.
- TBA: Call for papers Q&A
- November 16: deadline manuscript
- Mid-January: notification of acceptance
- February 1: deadline first revision
- March 8: deadline final revision
Submission length is 3500-5000 words for original articles, and 750-1500 words for book reviews. Submissions should engage with the scholarly literature of the appropriate discipline and clearly identify its contribution to the field. Please omit references to the author in manuscripts to ensure anonymous reviews. The journal does not accept manuscripts previously published by or simultaneously submitted to other publications. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Please download the full CfP here.
Photo Credits: Jonathan Cohen