Call for papers
The Legacies of Ursula K. Le Guin: Science, Fiction and Ethics for the Anthropocene
International conference in Paris · June 19 – 21, 2019
École polytechnique / Sorbonne Nouvelle
Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art, the art of words.
–Ursula K. Le Guin
Planetary ethics and aesthetics, interspecies communities, post-gender and anarchist societies, indigenous knowledge, vegetal sentience… The paths Ursula K. Le Guin has opened for our imagination to travel are numerous, subtle itineraries through which we might find ways to better inhabit the 21st century.
A visionary thinker, engaging storyteller, and superb stylist, Ursula K. Le Guin passed away on January 22nd, 2018, leaving behind a substantial body of fiction and non-fiction that appears more vital every day.
The international bilingual conference Le Guin’s Legacies will engage with her work from a multiplicity of perspectives, tracing its literary, ecological, philosophical, socio-economical and anthropological ramifications: its potential for re-engineering the world we live in. The conference follows a number of recent events inspired by her works, such as the three-day open-studio exhibition at the Cité internationale des arts, Nous ne sommes pas le nombre que nous croyons être (Paris, Spring 2018). Building on these events, Le Guin’s Legacies will curate writers, artists and scientists roundtables alongside scholarly investigation and debate.
In her crafting of alternative worlds and myths, Le Guin combines science and literature, delineating new methodologies for the weaving and sharing of knowledge. As the daughter of Alfred Kroeber, one of the the 20th century’s most important American anthropologists, much of her work contains elements considered anthropological in inspiration. But, with depth and erudition, Le Guin also draws upon other social sciences such as sociology, political science, psychology, and linguistics; physical sciences such as physics, biology, and ecology; and the humanities such as literary theory, philosophy, historiography, comparative religion and mythology.
Far from intellectual window-dressing, these epistemic layers deeply structure Le Guin’s fictions. Her writing engages in complex thinking without seeming to do so, touching the reader’s affective and sensitive body with its elegant and fluid style and finely tuned narratives. This level of epistemic exigency is matched, in Le Guin, with moral exigency. Le Guin is a politically engaged writer, dealing not only with issues related to anarchism but also feminism, racism, cultural and linguistic diversity, ecology, animal rights, military disarmament, etc. Her work requires us to redefine what it means to be human, by decentering a traditional, potentially racialized and gendered vision of the human and placing it in a continuum involving animals, technology, and more generally the environment.
Guest speaker: Isabelle Stengers (Université Libre de Bruxelles)
Presentations may be in French or English and touch upon:
– animal studies
– radical ecology
– writing the ecological crisis
– gender and reproductive politics, biopower
– queer theory and practice
– anarchism, capitalism, industrialism, postcolonialism
– environmental design and speculative infrastructure
– critical utopias / dystopias
– oriental philosophy
– Indigenous/ Native American studies
– Le Guin’s nonfiction and lesser-known fiction
– anthropology as a literary mode/ a method for the novel
– science (including the social sciences) and literature / epistemocritique
– language and the material world
– ethics and aesthetics of science fiction and fantasy
– science fiction as a literary genre
– translating Le Guin
250-500 words proposals accompanied by a short bio. should be sent to:
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Submission deadline is November 15th, 2018.
Proposals will be subjected to blind peer-review by the scientific committee. Authors will be informed of the results of their submission before December 15th.
Christopher Robinson (École polytechnique)
Sarah Bouttier (École polytechnique)
Pierre-Louis Patoine (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle)
This conference is a joint initiative of École polytechnique (Department of Languages and Culture, in association with the Chaire Arts et Sciences) and Sorbonne Nouvelle University (EA 4398 PRISME – Groupe 19-21 Modernités critiques & TRACT).
Danièle André (La Rochelle University, president of Stella Incognita)
Stephanie Burt (Harvard University)
Marie-Pier Boucher (MIT)
Mathieu Duplay (Paris Diderot University)
Gaïd Girard (Bretagne Occidentale University)
Veronica Hollinger (Trent University, Canada)
Irène Langlet (Limoges University)
Hélène Machinal (Bretagne Occidentale University)
Marc Porée (École Normale Supérieure Ulm / Sorbonne Nouvelle University)
Anne Simon (CNRS)
Natacha Vas-Deyres (Bordeaux Montaigne University)