The Lower Senses and the Arts of Resistance--ASLE panel proposal (June 20-24 2017, Detroit)

Call for Papers
November 15, 2016
California, United States
Subject Fields: 
Literature, Environmental History / Studies, Art, Art History & Visual Studies

We’re seeking proposals for 15-minute papers for a panel at the 2017 ASLE conference in Detroit (June 20-24, 2017). In keeping with the conference theme of “Rust/Resistance: Works of Recovery,” we aim to explore how environmental artworks (including literature) leverage bodily senses to develop projects of recovery or resistance.

Recent critical interest in the “material turn” and in “trans-corporeal” and “trans-dermal” modes of environmental perception point to the importance of the aesthetics of the so-called “lower senses.” While Western aesthetics have generally privileged the senses of vision and hearing, the putative limitations of taste, smell, and touch—i.e., their requirements of material proximity, immersion and intake and their tendency toward involuntary or passive reception—make them particularly well-positioned for staging what Stacy Alaimo calls “material agency.” Yet, even as they offer important information and affective contexts for understanding how environmental risks are corporealized across spaces and populations, the lower senses resist traditional modes of representation. How do tactile, gustatory, and olfactory artworks reconfigure “toxic discourse,” dystopian scenarios, material memoirs, and other genres of environmental rhetoric?

We welcome work that reconsiders conventional understandings of how humans apprehend their environments, which senses are “triggered” or ignited, and how that translates into experimental works of art and literature.

Please send a 300-word abstract and short bio (of one paragraph) to Hsuan Hsu ( and Yanoula Athanassakis ( by November 15, 2016.

Contact Info: 

Yanoula Athanassakis and Hsuan Hsu

Contact Email: