Call for Papers: Apocalyptic Waste – Environmental Threat and Nightmare Spaces

Apocalyptic Waste: Studies in Environmental Threat and Nightmare Spaces

Deadline for Abstract Submissions: January 31st 2020

Contact E-mail: [email protected]

Guest Editors: Matt Crofts and Layla Hendow, University of Hull.

The post-apocalyptic wasteland holds a powerful symbolic status within the popular imagination. Ravaged by infection, invasion, the supernatural or environmental disaster, the imagery of a deserted and hostile landscape rose to prominence during the Cold War and has remained a fertile source of horror ever since. The wasteland is a nightmare; a repository for a loose collection of fears centred on man’s tendency toward self-destruction and savagery. The future this fiction espouses makes mankind all revenants; a species that should be extinct still clinging to life, battling with the return of its own mistakes. This concept of a hostile relationship between humanity and the environment unites post-apocalyptic fiction and contemporary discourses of waste management; the vision of a ransacked earth is offered as a warning for readers and polluters alike.

‘Apocalyptic Waste’ adopts an interdisciplinary approach, exploring how both pressing environmental issues and diverse cultural outputs converge on the wasteland as a nightmare. Spaces of waste, be they dumps of literal rubbish or the remains of civilization, act as a sublime setting that prompts a powerful emotional response. That abandoned buildings, graveyards and other places associated with dead bodies, and even waste management sites have all been linked to supernatural occurrences is further evidence of this strong reaction. Landfill sites produce a strong reaction of their own – ‘not in my back yard’ (NIMBY) psychology attitudes restrict new wastelands, just as the need for such spaces dictates their creation. Spaces like ‘The Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ sound like settings of dystopian fiction but are a pressing example of the damage human production causes. The nightmarish threats of horror wastelands are perhaps only as terrifying as the transformation of the environment itself.

This special issue showcases current approaches towards how waste and waste production has a transformative effect on landscape, and how and why wastelands prove to be an effective locale for Gothic, supernatural and horror texts of all kinds. We invite scholarly submissions that examine any aspect of waste or wastelands in literature, film, television, graphic novels, video games, or other media. We also welcome creative pieces that engage with the subjects of this issue. These topics could include, but aren’t limited to:

  • The wasteland as a Gothic, sublime setting – what makes it an effective locale for horror
  • The supernatural and waste – waste sites as haunted (literally or figuratively)
  • Landfills and dumps as waste spaces
  • Post-apocalyptic novels, films or games
  • Texts that confront environmental issues such as overpopulation
  • The threat posed by excessive production
  • The geography of waste, marginalisation and repression of waste
  • The human body as a resource; one that can be recycled
  • Environmental disasters, ‘cli-fi’ fiction, or the different type of threat posed by ‘slow violence’
  • Waste and pollution – the creation of fear, abjection, NIMBY
  • ‘Resource fiction’ or ‘Petro-fiction’ – scarcity versus abundance
  • Eco-Gothic, Eco-critical, or other theoretical approaches, on waste
  • Class, gender, age, race/ethnicity perspectives on waste, recycling, pollution, post-apocalypse
  • Creative pieces (fiction, poetry, reflective accounts or artwork) that engages with any of the above

For articles and creative pieces (such as poetry, short stories, flash fiction, videos, artwork and music) please send a 500-word abstract and a short biography by January 31st, 2020. If your abstract is accepted, the full article (maximum 7000 words, including Harvard referencing) and the full creative piece (maximum 5000 words) will be due May 29th, 2020. The aim is to publish in Autumn 2020. Reviews of books, films, games, events, and art related to the waste and apocalyptic landscapes will be considered (800-1,000 words in length). Please send full details of the title and medium you would like to review as soon as possible. Further information, including Submission Guidelines, are available at the journal website: Inquiries are welcome and, along with all submissions, should be directed to [email protected] and [email protected]. If emailing the journal directly at [email protected] please quote ‘waste special issue’ in the subject box.