CFP: “Gardeners of the Galaxies: How Imaginary Worlds Teach Us to Care for This One” by Sørina Higgins and Brenton Dickieson (Academic Deadline Extended to May 30th)

I am about to talk about gardening while my own garden is suffering from busy-related neglect. Even my little seedlings, planted with plenty of time for our last frost day (usually about June 10th in Prince Edward Island) have not fared very well. It may be what my grandmother once called a “bean garden summer”–a crop that grows without fail up here in the North Atlantic. At least, it has often done so.

Well, perhaps I am being a little overly dreary. After all, the hops grow without bidding, as do the dandelions. And my garlic pushed through winter cover with the snowdrops. There will be good garden days ahead, I am sure. My garden-dreary mood is perhaps because it is a dreary day, I have had tooth work, and I long to sing my fingers into the earth.

I have, though, survived my marathon of marking, conferences, and papers, which I talked about last week. I was trying to say too much in each paper, but they went well enough. My garden, too, becomes overgrown as I try to cram everything into our tiny growing season. It seems that I have learned to prune tomatoes and space out papers better than I have learned to focus my writing and give my audiences a bit of breathing space for the ideas.

As I take a breath after the busy period, I wanted to say a brief “hello” and note that Sørina and I are extending the deadline for our anthology of essays and creative pieces, Gardeners of the Galaxy: How Imaginary Worlds Teach Us to Care for This One. The open call for academic essay proposals has been extended to May 30th. The deadline for artistic pieces remains September 1st. We welcome questions about academic submissions (email me, at brenton[dot]dickieson[at]signumu[dot]org), and you can send queries about creative submissions to Sørina Higgins (sorina[dot]higgins[at]signumu[dot].org).

The full CFP listing is below, with all the necessary links. Also, check out our promo video, where we introduce the project with cats.

CFP: Gardeners of the Galaxies: How Imaginary Worlds Teach Us to Care for This One, co-edited by Dr. Sørina Higgins and Dr. Brenton Dickieson

As the climate crisis worsens, our home planet and our conversations about it are heating up–and creative writers both reflect and anticipate such concerns. Thanks to the recent ethical turn in science fiction and fantasy, many speculative works offer readers a mirror in which to view our own world. Its beauties and vulnerabilities take on special clarity through the page or the screen. A tale of terraforming another planet reminds us how precious and fragile our home world is. The perennial conflict between nature and technology comes alive when trees march to war. We find insights into healthy, diverse communities by spending time with characters in a fellowship–or on a starship.

Gardeners of the Galaxies: How Imaginary Worlds Teach Us to Care for This One will be an academic, peer-reviewed collection of interdisciplinary essays, co-edited by Dr. Brenton Dickieson and Dr. Sørina Higgins. This volume will explore literature, film, the visual arts, and other creative works (especially Cli-Fi, genre fiction, and speculative lit) that imagine, invent, and embody environmental concerns. Rather than coercing texts to conform to our analyses, however, we want to approach our subjects humbly and earnestly, listening to what they say about creation care, biodiversity, or neighborliness; immersing ourselves in their stories of ecological harmony and disharmony; mourning the disasters they depict; and celebrating the solutions they imagine. In particular, we would love analyses of works that envision ingenious alternatives to large-scale planetary depredation.

Chapter proposals might consider questions such as the following (although this list is by no means comprehensive nor intended to limit lines of inquiry): What kinds of environmental disasters are depicted in contemporary literature, film, and other media? How does a certain genre or medium represent nature, and how have those portrayals evolved over time? Do certain metaphors for land or diction choices about earth impact how people treat the soil, landscapes, or ecosystems with which and in which they live? In a given work, is nature empowered or oppressed, and how do characters respond? What is the significance or impact of the anthropomorphism of animals, plants, landscape features, or celestial bodies? When stories blur the line between the human and the nonhuman, what implications does such destabilization have for our living in community with our nonhuman neighbors? What lessons are conveyed through encounters with extraterrestrial species? What do stories of interplanetary colonization suggest about imperialist urges, their ecological impacts on earth, and strategies for integrating with the Other rather than obliterating or oppressing them? Are there tales in which technology plays an essential role in preserving nature or reinforcing what makes us human? What techniques do creators use to entertain us and draw us into moral considerations without compromising artistic excellence or devolving into propaganda?

Submission Information: 

As this volume will be interdisciplinary, we welcome scholars working in literature, film, popular culture, the fine arts, ecology, history, the social sciences, religion, and related fields. While aimed at a scholarly audience, chapters should be written in a lively, accessible tone, avoiding jargon while employing rigorous theoretical and critical frameworks and engaging deeply with existing research. Interested authors should consider trying out their ideas at TexMoot, Signum University’s Annual Texas Literature & Language Symposium (held in Austin, TX, and online; CFP deadline March 1st), which explores the overlapping theme of “Starships, Stewards, and Storytellers: How Imaginary Worlds Teach Us to Care for This One.”

Please submit 500-word proposals here by May 30, 2022. Notifications regarding acceptance will be made in June 2022. Full papers (5,000-8,000 words, including notes) will be due by November 30, 2022.

In addition to academic submissions, the editors will carefully curate a small number of creative works for possible inclusion in the volume. Poets, short-story writers, essayists, and visual artists are invited to submit the actual piece of work that they would like to have considered here; note length limits on the submission form. These works can be submitted up until September 1, 2022.

Send questions about academic submissions to Brenton Dickieson (brenton[dot]dickieson[at]signumu[dot]org). Send queries about creative submissions to Sørina Higgins (sorina[dot]higgins[at]signumu[dot].org).

About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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14 Responses to CFP: “Gardeners of the Galaxies: How Imaginary Worlds Teach Us to Care for This One” by Sørina Higgins and Brenton Dickieson (Academic Deadline Extended to May 30th)

  1. Owen Barfield says:

    Thanks, I’ve watched the promo video and made a submission.


    • That’s great Owen! I hope the “pond” between us will shrink sometime and we can grab tea or a pint sometime live and chat. I keep moving further into your grandfather’s work, slowly.


  2. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    I wonder if anyone knows anything about any connections between any of the Inklings and Hugo Conwentz (855-1922)? He was a botanist – and a palaeobotanist, but also the author of The Care of Natural Monuments with special reference to Great Britain and Germany, published by the Cambridge University Press in 1909. I know Tolkien’s botanical interests have been given intelligent attention – but do not know the details (!) And now I wonder if Conwentz’s and Tolkien’s wide-ranging interests may have had more than one point of contact… Alas, not enough for any kind of proposal, but something inherently interesting…


    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      Oops! 1855 (Conwentz did not live as long as, say, Mr. Cave Bear)!


    • Lewis did like longlivers! I don’t know of any connection. I don’t have that name in any file on my computer, including the oddments of Tolkien material and the more substantial Lewis collection–as well as Williams’ novels and Barfield’s major works. Of the group, I could see Tolkien drifting through a book like that, but I don’t know. I’ve always thought that the flora in their books came from a combination of their own gardens, fairy tales, and euphonic names for flowers and trees.


      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        Thanks! Tolkien seems the likelist – though I can also imagine a Lewis interest, not least where Conwentz’s broader historical interests are concerned (and I have the impression of Barfield as most aware of German writers): I don’t have enough of a sense of how any of them thought about ‘natural monuments’.


        • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

          Too late for a submission, but I’m now wondering if ‘Tolkien, Prussia, and Forestry’ might be an interesting subject – or conjunction of subjects – to follow up. Having pondered a possible ‘Conwentz connection’, I noticed in the “Tolkien Family” Wikipedia article interesting attention by Ryszard Derdziński concerning Tolkien and Prussian origins and ancestry. Then, I ran into a second-hand copy of Francis Ludwig Carsten’s The Origins of Prussia (OUP, 1954). Carsten and Tolkien would have both been in Oxford from at least 1939-42. Might they have had contacts with each other? Among other things, Carsten pays attention to people settling in largely uninhabited parts of what is later Prussia and clearing land for agriculture, and also to Baltic timber trade with the west. And in the new Dutch Tolkien Society’s collection of essays about Númenor, Lembas Extra 2022, which I am about half-way along in reading, there is varied interesting attention to both de- and re-forestation in Númenor and by Númenóreans in western Middle-earth. Could there be a ‘Prussian dimension’ to Tolkien’s detailed imagination of attention to forestry in Númenor?

          Liked by 1 person

          • As always David, you provide a striking confluence of ideas. Your ability to allow for cross-fertilization in your reading is stunning!
            I don’t know about beefy paper in a volume, but if you want to explore and see what happens, this blog is always open to your own experiments in reading!


            • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

              Many thanks! I’ll see what comes of this… maybe some enthusiastic interaction with a couple essays in the Númenor collection? By good luck (‘as they say in the Shire’?) I’ve just read Compton Mackenzie’s Water on the Brain (1933) a sort of Marx-Brothers’ movie of a novel about the British Secret Service and the commercial exploitation of (holy) springs, among other things – with some observations in passing about the activities of the Forestry Commission (which Wikipedia tells me “was established as part of the Forestry Act 1919”)!

              Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: 3 Upcoming Signum University Thesis Theatres on The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien’s Legendarium | A Pilgrim in Narnia

  4. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Looking ahead, it struck me how appropriate your posting and Sørina’s reblogging this are to next week’s Rogation Days – and how little sense I have of (possible) Inkling attention to them! I should go searching letters – but might there be allusions, too, in published works? Michael P. Foley’s interesting post, here, has a striking Rogation Dragon – and some detail:

    And, I find Wikipedia’s “Rogation days” has a good bit more Dragon – and Lion – detail! Time to reread Farmer Giles of Ham?

    And, Steven A. Hensley, commenting at Michael P. Foley’s article, ties in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s On the Banks of Plum Creek to his “Grasshopper Chapel” account. A Dutch Wikipedia article notes Reformed Church continuations of such Days of Prayer, including an annual one established in one province in 1658 on the first Thursday of May to pray for ” a blessed Summer” paired with another on the first Thursday of September to give thanks. This gets me wondering if anything like that was characteristic of PEI in the days of L.M. Mongomery?


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