Skip to content

Virtual conference: Literature and the Anthropocene in EFL Education

20 - 21 Feb. 2024
Published: 23 March 2023

Welcome to a virtual conference on Literature and the Anthropocene in EFL Education. Call for abstracts is open until 31 August, 2023.

The Anthropocene is a contested term that refers to the present geological era, where human activities are negatively impacting the Earth's environment and systems, including its climate, land, oceans, and biodiversity. To address the pressing problems signifying the Anthropocene, changes in long-standing practices and behaviors are critical.

English as a foreign language (EFL) education provides valuable opportunities to introduce global and intercultural perspectives on the challenges of the Anthropocene. The United Nations’ Agenda 2030 underscores the need for a change in thinking, beliefs, and attitudes at all levels of society and academic subjects to initiate and sustain behavioral change towards more sustainable practices. One way to engage EFL learners critically with the Anthropocene and make its complexity more accessible, immediate, and meaningful to them is through literary studies. Literature has the power to challenge established ideas, inspire change, and offer fresh perspectives on real-world problems associated with the Anthropocene.

By envisioning alternative futures and scenarios, literature can serve as a catalyst for positive action towards a sustainable future. It can also highlight the intergenerational dimensions of the Anthropocene and provide context and continuity between the present, past, and future. In addition, literature can help learners understand the human experience of living in the Anthropocene. It can explore the social, political, and economic factors that contribute to environmental problems. By analyzing and otherwise approaching literary texts, learners can develop empathy and insight into the diverse experiences of people living in different parts of the world and gain a deeper appreciation for the interconnectedness of global systems.

The conference aims to promote multidisciplinary research collaborations. A purpose of the conference is to establish an international network focusing on how the study of literature in EFL can help readers better understand and critically approach the challenges of the Anthropocene in ways that are both significant and urgent.

 Keynote speakers

Roman Bartosch (University of Cologne), author of Literature, Pedagogy and Climate Change: Text Models for a Transcultural Ecology (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019) and co-author of forthcoming Climate Change Literacy (Cambridge UP, 2023).

Pieter Vermeulen (University of Leuven), author of Literature and the Anthropocene (Routledge, 2020).

We are seeking contributions that address questions such as how literature has represented the Anthropocene, and what themes, tropes and motifs are common across different genres and forms of literature. How has literature engaged with the scientific and political debates surrounding the Anthropocene, and how can this engagement be brought into EFL teaching? How have indigenous and postcolonial literatures engaged with the Anthropocene and what unique perspectives and insights do these literatures bring to the discourse? What are the ethical and political implications of using literatures in EFL teaching to address the Anthropocene? What is the role storytelling plays in addressing the challenges of the Anthropocene and how can EFL teachers use literary texts about the phenomenon to foster empathy, understanding and action among their learners in response to these challenges? In what ways can EFL teachers incorporate literary texts about the Anthropocene into their lesson plans and activities, and what pedagogical approaches are effective in doing so? 

Call for abstracts

We welcome 250-300-word abstracts for 15-minute conference papers that explore the role literature has or can have in helping learners of EFL in primary, secondary, and tertiary education, including pre-service teacher education, to identify respond to, challenge, or otherwise critically engage with the Anthropocene. Topics can include but are not limited to the following:

  • climate change
  • eco-feminism
  • ecological anxiety
  • ecological disaster(s), real or imagined
  • environmental ethics
  • environmental justice and activism
  • historical perspectives
  • human-animal relationships
  • human displacement and migration
  • imaginary futures, dystopian or utopian perspectives on the future
  • imaginary or real technological challenges
  • indigenous perspectives
  • intersections of gender, class and ethnicity/race and the Anthropocene
  • literary forms and genres
  • non-human perspectives
  • postcolonial or decolonial perspectives
  • post-, transhumanism
  • representations of natural spaces and landscapes
  • rewilding
  • sustainable literary pedagogies
  • urbanization

Paper presentations can introduce research ideas as well as present ongoing or completed research and should be given in English. Please send a 250-word abstract of your proposed paper with a brief, 50-word, biography to by 31 August, 2023. Post-conference plans are to publish a selection of the papers either as a collection of essays or as a special issue in a scholarly journal.