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Neoliberal Environments / Les environnements néolibéraux



Special issue of Studies in Canadian Literature 

Neoliberal Environments

Edited by Tania Aguila-Way, Kit Dobson, and Nicole Shukin

In his 2011 book Anne of Tim Hortons: Globalization and the Reshaping of Atlantic-Canadian Literature, the late Herb Wyile pushed back against neoliberal ideologies through readings of literary texts that, in his view, countered “the mobility, deracination, and sense of placelessness that characterize our highly technological, globalized consumer society.” Following Wyile’s cue, this special issue asks: how do literary and cultural texts counter or conform to neoliberalism? How do they respond to environmental challenges in an age shaped by global capital? Neoliberalism is here understood in the broadest sense, offered by Wendy Brown, as a “governing rationality in which everything is ‘economized’,” remaking human as well as nonhuman social and material lives into various species of capital (Undoing the Demos). Picking up on the conversations started in the 2014 issue of SCL entitled “Canadian Literary Ecologies” (edited by Pamela Banting, Cynthia Sugars, and Herb Wyile), what is the past, present, and future of work in ecocriticism and the environmental humanities in the context of analyses of neoliberalism? As Rita Wong states in her poem “ricochet,” from the 2007 book forage: “i can’t bear the weight of history & i can’t not bear it.” What is the role of literary and cultural texts in confronting the weighty, intertwining histories of land dispossession, resource extraction, and capitalist accumulation that the Canadian settler state is built upon? This special issue of Studies in Canadian Literature is devoted to an examination of what happens at the intersections of neoliberalism and the environment.

The editors of this issue are interested in analyses of literary complicities with or resistances to the following:

  • Land dispossession, resource extraction, and/or environmental racism.
  • Biotechnology, biocapitalism, biocolonialism, and the hijacking of living processes.
  • Neoliberal investments in nonhuman life (or nonlife) and labour; noncompliant nonhumans.
  • The neoliberal co-opting of virtuous rhetorics of reconciliation, along with “green” concepts such as resilience and remediation; the role of Indigenous resurgence and land-based pedagogies in resisting this phenomenon.
  • Human capital, natural capital, and/or animal capital.
  • Neoliberal environments of risk/precarity (including political and environmental refugees, of any species).
  • Genres of neoliberalism; the instrumentalization of dystopic fiction, speculative fiction, and other forms of “middle-brow” fiction as alibis for neoliberal futurity; poetry as a mode of anti-capitalist resistance; the role of BIPOC writing in generating alternative visions of the past, present, and future.
  • The biopolitics of renewability and disposability of resources, species, and even populations (as in “allowable” extinctions).
  • The cultures of resources and power (oil/ bitumen/ gas/ water/ electricity and beyond).
  • Caring for the land/ affective environments.
  • Natures/ cultures: “untouched” or “pristine” environments/ modified environments/ built environments.
  • Pollination and cross-pollination in both literary and disciplinary contexts; the monetization of the environmental humanities and other forms of interdisciplinarity within the neoliberal university.

Submissions should be 6000-8000 words, including Notes and Works Cited. English submissions should conform to the MLA Handbook, 8th edition; French submissions to Le guide du rédacteur (by the Translation Bureau, 1996). Please submit essays electronically via Word attachment to Deadline for submissions is 1 May 2019. For more information, visit the journal’s website at or contact Tania Aguila-Way at, Kit Dobson at, or Nicole Shukin at