CALL FOR PAPERS: "Mother/Nature" Conference

September 15, 2011

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Barbara Gates

Plenary Speakers: Janisse Ray and Dr. Catherine Roach

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

–John Muir

We live in a time of crisis in both our homes and natural environment. From hurricanes to oil spills, we are linked to each other through the loss and degradation of regional and national habitats. Our selfhoods and the places that we make for ourselves in the world are ultimately rooted in both our biological and ecological families.

The theme for this conference, Mother/Nature, seeks to discover interconnectedness and meaning through a study concerning the shifting influences on the changing definition of motherhood. We welcome submissions that consider conceptions of the intersection between motherhood and the natural world. Interdisciplinary approaches to motherhood and nature, especially interactions between the humanities and sciences, are invited. We encourage scholars to think creatively about the theme of this conference, and we invite papers and panel proposals that consider topics that include, but are not limited to, the following:

The Science of Motherhood

-Theories of childbirth in the United States

-Psychologizing nature: nature-deficit disorders

-Health and motherhood

Contemporary Sustainability

-Finding balance in the modern world

-Conceiving renewable energy

-Domesticated landscapes

The Nature of Motherhood

-Nature vs. nurture

-Biological determinism

-Single parenting

Non-Biological Motherhood

-Foster/adoptive parenting

-Masculinity and motherhood

-Educators as “mothers”

Interrogating Conservation

-Parenting the natural world

-Protecting endangered species and landscapes

-The birth of the modern environmental movement

Mother/Nature in Literature

-Literary Darwinism

-Defining women’s health through ecocriticism

-Representations of mother/nature in children’s literature

Modern Motherhood

-Redefining motherhood in pop culture

-Representing mother/nature in film

We welcome oral papers and poster presentations from faculty members and graduate students. Strong undergraduate submissions will also be considered. Please send abstracts (250-300 words) and a brief biography (100 words) to by October 15th, 2011. In the biography, please indicate your current academic status and affiliation, as well as what type of presentation you are proposing (i.e. paper, oral, or poster). In addition to including abstracts and biographies in the main text of the email, attach those documents as .rtf or .doc files as well. Also, please indicate whether you have any technology needs. Individual sessions will last 15-20 minutes.

We also welcome the submission of creative works (a selection of 3-5 poems or 3,000 words for fiction or creative non-fiction).  Please submit these works following the above guidelines by October 15th, 2011.

A $150 prize will be offered to the best student paper, as well as publication in Synergy, the interdisciplinary graduate student journal of the University of Southern Mississippi. To be considered for this award, please submit the full copy of your paper by February 1st, 2012.

There is no registration fee.