Modern Fiction Studies Department of English

Call for Papers

Upcoming Special Issue

Call for Papers: Upcoming Special Issue
Literature and Extraction

Guest Editors: Ashley Dawson and Alok Amatya
Deadline for Submissions: 1 May 2019

The only way to avert planetary ecocide is to cease new extraction of fossil fuels. The Carbon Tracker Initiative has shown that 80 percent of existing oil, gas, and coal reserves must be kept in the ground in order to avoid triggering catastrophic climate change. Fighting to keep the carbon in the soil arguably has become the paramount concern of the global movement for climate justice.

What role is literary representation to play in the fight against extraction? What unique capacities might literature have to document extreme extraction and its impact on frontline communities? And to what extent are existing literary genres mutated and even transfigured in the course of struggles over extraction? This special issue of Modern Fiction Studies seeks to explore these momentous questions.

Accelerating climate change and broader public awareness of the threat of planetary ecocide has made extraction the business of all sentient life on the planet. In tandem, a commodity super-cycle unleashed by the unprecedented economic takeoff of China over the last several decades has ramped up global extraction, turning once-distant sacrifice zones into a global condition of profit for the few and peril for the multitude. Finally, diminishing rates of return on existing fossil fuel reserves along with technological innovation within the oil industry have led to the advent of increasingly extreme forms of extraction such as deep-sea oil, tar sands, and, of course, hydro-fracking. In sum, extraction has proliferated and grown more dangerous precisely when it needs to be curtailed.

While it is a clear death sentence for most life on the planet, extraction has nonetheless gained significant ideological purchase on global publics. The refrain of “drill, baby, drill!” resounds particularly loudly in the United States, where a decades-long campaign of climate-change denialism by Big Oil and affiliated industries prepared the terrain for the current populist embrace of the country’s current booming fossil-fuel sector. But extractivist populism also has gained significant purchase in the Pink Tide countries of Latin America, where left-leaning leaders have advocated redistribution of carbon-based profits to national majorities while destroying the homelands of Indigenous and forest-dwelling peoples. The lure of extraction-fueled development is also strong in fast-developing countries such as India and China. Extraction is thus very much a contested term today.

In addition to being a key site of struggle for climate justice and other activists, extraction has begun to command scholarly attention. A brace of recent books has focused on the struggle at Standing Rock and related efforts by Water Protectors in other parts of North America: Jaskiran Dhillon’s Prairie Rising (2017) and Nick Estes’s Our History is the Future (2019) stand out. This work builds on surprisingly scant prior scholarly foundations such as Al Gedicks’s The New Resource Wars (1993) and Resource Rebels (2001), and Richard Peet and Michael Watts’s co-edited volume Liberal Ecologies (1996). Complementing this recent work on indigenous activism against extraction, Macarena Gómez-Barris’s The Extractive Zone (2017) surveys anti-extractivist social movements and aesthetic work in various parts of Latin America.

Despite this growing body of work, there has been little comparative scholarly work on extractivism and anti-extractivism within an international frame. Among the relatively sparse examples of such work are Kirk Jalbert and colleagues’ ExtrAction (2017); Contested Extractivism, Society and the State (2017), edited by Bettina Engels and Kristina Dietz; and a recent issue of the journal Cultural Studies, co-edited by Laura Junka-Aikio and Catalina Cortés Severino, that surveys extraction and culture from the mining pits of South Africa to the fracking fields of the English countryside and beyond.

Contributors to this special issue of MFS may look to examine such works as Arundhati Roy’s essays on the indigenous resistance against mining companies in central India in Walking with Comrades (2011), Helon Habila’s novel on the consequences of oil drilling for local residents of the Niger Delta in Oil on Water (2010), Leanne Allison and colleagues’ documentary film on the resistance to oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve in Being Caribou (2005), Linda Hogan’s fictive depiction of the James Bay hydroelectric project in the novel Solar Storms (1995), Abdelrahman Munif’s epic trilogy on oil extraction in the Middle East beginning with Cities of Salt (1984), and of course Upton Sinclair’s fictionalizations of mineral wealth exploration in the US: King Coal (1917) and Oil! (1927).

This special issue of MFS aims to contribute decisively to the burgeoning fields of Environmental and Energy Humanities by investigating the unique capacities of literary representation (and adjacent genres) to represent social struggles linked to extraction and to imagine post-extractivist futures. We hope that, in the process of this inquiry, we will contribute to intersectional struggles for climate justice around the world.

Essays should be 7,000-9,000 words, including all quotations and bibliographic references, and should follow the MLA Style Manual (8th edition) for internal citation and Works Cited. Please submit your essay via the online submission form at the following web address:

Queries should be directed to Alok Amatya ( and Ashley Dawson (

Upcoming Special Issue

Call for Papers: Upcoming Special Issue
Memory, Migration, and Modern Fiction

Guest Editors: Ellen G. Friedman and Mindi McMann
Deadline for Submissions: 1 June 2019

While the current immigration crisis on the US/Mexico border and the plight of refugees in Europe make daily headlines, such problems are not new. Rather, the conditions of statelessness, displacement, and diaspora characterize modernity. The relationship between memory and migration help to articulate the literary genealogy of these mobilities. This special issue of MFS, “Memory, Migration, and Modern Fiction,” focuses on the dislocations that define the twentieth century and continue into the twenty-first century, including but not limited to the genocides in Europe, Asia, and Africa, the partition of India, the dirty wars in Argentina and other South American countries, the breakup of the Soviet Union, and the repercussions of 9/11. Mobility remains a defining feature of how identity is attempted, challenged, and constructed. Memory plays a crucial role in these narratives. As Julia Creet suggests, migration may be a condition of memory. Memory is a mode of transmitting to the present accountability for traumatic and dislocating events of the past. In some instances it may help provide continuity within dislocation, while in other cases it reinforces a sense of discontinuity and exile.

For this special issue of MFS, we invite essays that explore the relationships between memory, identity, and migration in modern fiction. Essays may approach these ideas in any way that addresses their significance or untangles the complexities with which these topics are expressed. Some questions essays might consider are: how do migration, diaspora, and exile affect individual and collective memory? How is migration represented aesthetically and politically? What are the effects of migration on personal and community identity or ideas of home and belonging? Who is given the power to represent these experiences? How are accountability and responsibility represented in this fiction? What are the ethics of memory in relation to displacement and dislocation? Is there an ethics of memory? How does narrative and/or genre inform the transmission of memory?

Essays should be 7,000-9,000 words, including all quotations and bibliographic references, and should follow the MLA Handbook (8th edition) for internal citation and Works Cited. Please submit your essay via the online submission form at the following web address:

Queries should be directed to Ellen G. Friedman ( or Mindi McMann (

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