Decodings Fall 2019 (November)


Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts Newsletter                     

Fall 2019, Vol. 28, No.4 (November edition)

*SLSA 2019, “Experimental Engagements,” University of California-Irvine

*New Committees Formed

*Policies Approved: Respectful Behavior and Freedom of Speech

*Awards Presented

*AnthropoScene Book Series

*SLSA Europe News


SLSA 2019: Experimental Engagements — November 7-9, 2019

University of California-Irvine, California

Thanks are due the SLSA 2019 conference team–led by Jesse Jackson and Antoinette LaFarge and including Ivette Morales and others–for organizing a great program of activities on the University of California at Irvine campus. Highlights for the 400-plus conference attendees included keynotes by Laura Kurgan and Andrea Polli, a special session with award winner Donna Haraway, a number of films exhibited outdoors, a variety of art exhibits and performances, and more than one hundred paper sessions and workshops.

Hosted by the Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design and organized by Irina Aristarkhova, SLSA 2020 will be held at the University of Michigan in fall 2020. The conference theme will be Energy. More details will be forthcoming via the SLSA listserv, website, and social media. 


Congratulations to Newly elected Members at Large Adriana Knouf and Adam Nocek, and appointed Graduate Student Liaisons Brad Necyk (University of Alberta), Ben Platt (Oregon State University), and Tyler Gabbard (Purdue University) advising the executive committee; they join McKenzie Stupiča (Northwestern University).


Carol Colatrella provided the Financial Report, which indicated 2018-19 revenues as $168,856.08,

expenditures as $143,217.42, and a balance on 9/30/19 of $190,649.63. There are 546 members in the society. Please renew if you have not already done so at

SLSA thanks to 2018-19 life members, donors, benefactors, and patrons for their generous monetary contributions supporting SLSA general expenses, travel subsidies for students and others, and essay and book prizes:  Kate Hayles, Jay Labinger, Colin Milburn, Jenni Halpin, James Bonnie, Julia Reinhard Lupton, Robert Markley, Stefan Benz, Simmons Buntin, Dilyana Mincheva, Diana Moreno Ojeda, Jason Price, Christine Skolnik, Barbara Stafford, Dirk Vanderbeke

The executive committee heard Conference Reports concerning SLSA 2018, Toronto (organized by David Cecchetto and Marcel O’Gorman), SLSA 2019, University of California-Irvine (organized Jesse Jackson & Antoinette LaFarge), and SLSA 2020, University of Michigan (organized by Irina Aristarkhova). Volunteers who would be willing to organize or help organize SLSA 2021 (site to be determined) should contact SLSA officers.

David Cecchetto and Ania Malinowska delivered reports about SLSA Europe 2019 and 2020 conference reports. SLSA Europe information appears at The theme of the 2020 is Anthroposcenes: Reworking the Wound, and Ania invites SLSA members to submit proposals; SLSAeu Annual Conference to be held on 17-20 June 2020 in Katowice, Poland. For information about the conference’s theme, keynotes, venue, travel, fee (and other details), please visit the event’s website:

Melissa Littlefield and Rajani Sudan delivered a report on submissions, schedule, and plans for Configurations. The journal is now in its fourth year of publishing four issues per year and is on time with a January 2020 issue in production. The editors plan to introduce a Forum section and will consult with Jeff Karnicky, book review editor, about listing citations for new books in the journal.

Wayne Miller, Electronic Resources Coordinator, asks for new images for the SLSA website homepage ( He noted that he is in the process of cleaning up the website and will archive many past conference programs. The difficulties with updating the Bibliography encouraged the executive committee to decide against continuing its production; however, a number of members will continue or will be enlisted to develop social media.

Adriana Knouf will join Ed Chang, and Nicole Fletcher in developing SLSA social media. SLSA members interested in contributing to social media on behalf of the society are encouraged to email Adriana and Ed who are coordinating efforts: &

Pam Gossin reported on the need for the Publications Committee to rotate members and to work more closely with conference organizers on book panels. Graduate student members are encouraged to volunteer to work with the committee on identifying publications to be featured on the panels. 

Committee Members Approved by Executive Committee

Nomination Committee: Laura Otis (chair), David Cecchetto, Tyler Gabbard
Send nominations for member at large and 2nd VP to the Nomination chair at

Publications Committee: Pamela Gossin, Raymond Malewitz, Bruce Clarke, (ex officio: Melissa Littlefield)

      Send nominations of books to be considered for SLSA 2020 book panels to pgossin@gmail.

Lifetime Achievement Award Committee: Jay Labinger (chair), Dennis Summers, McKenzie Stupiča
Send nominations of individuals to be considered for a Lifetime Achievement to

Policies Adopted: Respectful Behavior and Freedom of Speech & Call for Ombudspersons

SLSA officers and the executive committee have developed two new policies and have shared them with members through the listserv. After incorporating revisions suggested by several members, the policies have been approved the executive committee and adopted by the society. The updated policies are posted here:

In accordance with the policies, SLSA is recruiting individuals to serve as ombudspersons who would receive and mediate any issues raised by members/conference attendees. Any member interested in volunteering to serve as ombudsperson, should send an email to Carol Colatrella (; include a short statement of why you are interested in serving in this role and what experience you can bring the position. Current officers will review statements to make an appointment.

Role of SLSA Ombudsperson                                                            

The Ombudsperson is an impartial entity who strives to see that SLSA members and SLSA conference attendees are treated fairly and equitably. Any member/attendee can seek the advice of the Ombudsperson. The Ombudsperson is impartial, neutral, and confidential. The rights and interests of all parties to disputes are considered, with the goal of achieving fair outcomes. The primary responsibilities of the Ombudsperson are:

  1. To work with individuals to explore and assist them in determining options to help resolve conflicts and problematic issues or concerns.
  2. To bring concerns about the organization to the attention of leadership for resolution.


Lifetime Achievement Award: Donna Haraway

For decades, Donna Haraway’s transformative work has been inspiring many of us at SLSA. She has been fearless in questioning the ways that knowledge is built, yet she is also a biologist in every sense, an investigator of life. From the time of Haraway’s graduate research, she has analyzed the ways that language and culture can shape understandings of life–while continuing to examine living things with critical awareness. The SLSA member who nominated Haraway for this award, Susan Squier, writes that, “the generative, exploratory, playful, and earnest character of her scholarship and teaching have had a powerfully positive effect on our profession.” The society is delighted to show our appreciation for Haraway’s research, which has motivated so many incisive studies of literature, science, and the arts.

Following the presentation of the award, there was an open and moving conversation with Donna Haraway that centered on a short piece of writing by Ursula LeGuin, “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction.” During the plenary session, a number of conference attendees responded to Professor Haraway’s invitation to bring along an actual carrier bag and to “think about the worlds contained in that bag.”

2018 SLSA Kendrick Book Prize: Arielle Saiber’s Measured Words

Established in the fall of 2006 in memory of Michelle Kendrick of Washington State University-Vancouver, an energetic, well-loved scholar of literature and science and long-time member of SLSA, the Kendrick Prize is open to any book of original scholarship on literature, science, and the arts. The winner of the 2018 Kendrick Book Award is Arielle Saiber’s Measured Words: Computation and Writing in Renaissance Italy (University of Toronto Press). Two books were short listed and received Kendrick honorable mentions: Jennifer Lieberman, Power Lines: Electricity in American Life and Letters, 1882-1952 (MIT Press), and David Parisi, Archeologies of Touch: Interfacing with Haptics from Electricity to Computing (University of Minnesota Press). Congratulations to all. And thanks to Bob Markley for chairing the prize deliberations.

2019 Schachterle Essay Prize

Paul Benzon’s “Weather Permitting: Shelley Jackson’s Snow and the Ecopoetics of the Digital,” College Literature, Vol. 46.1, Winter 2019 received the 2019 Schachterle Prize. Judges Blake Leland (Georgia Tech) and Jennifer Tuttle (University of New England) provided this commendation: “The focus of Benzon’s engaging essay on digital literary experimentation is Shelley Jackson’s ongoing, Instagram-based narrative Snow (begun in 2014). Benzon argues that Jackson’s text implicitly interrogates “its own status as digital writing in order to consider the ecopolitics of digital technology from the microscopic scale of the word, the typographic character, and the byte, to the macroscopic scale of global media and planetary climate.” In framing his analysis, Benzon forges links among myriad scholarly fields, bringing the discourse of experimental literature into conversation with media theory and ecocriticism on the Anthropocene. In exploring how Snow intervenes in an emergent moment of critical self-awareness in digital literary production about the political and ecological implications of global computing, Benzon illuminates the ways in which the political dimensions of electronic literature are implicated in its commitment to formal experimentation.”

2019 Bruns Essay Prize

The Bruns Prize for the best essay by a graduate student member of SLSA was presented to Sarah Ciston for

“Whispering into the Void Loop (): Co-Writing with AI, Error as Poetics.” Judge Dene Grigar, Director and Professor, Creative Media and Digital Culture, Washington State University, Vancouver, offered this commendation: “At a time when the negative effects of AI-enhanced language technologies, like Siri and Alexa, dominate media, Sarah Ciston presents us with her arts-based research project, inner (voice)over, that explores ways in which AI may be used to promote mutual understanding and self-compassion. Her article ‘Whispering into the Void Loop(): Co-Writing with AI, Error as Poetics’ details the project’s theoretical underpinnings, production techniques, and findings in clear and engaging language. While Ciston touches on such topics as Natural Language Processing (NPL), speech recognition tools, ‘queer disconnection,’ and human-computer-human interaction (HCHI), to name a few, the paper stays focused and the writing, tight. The essay convinces us that we can ‘reconfigur[e] language through breaks, joyfully showing what language technologies’ can and ‘cannot do.’”

2019 SLSA travel awards of $200 (US based) or $400 (international) were presented to the following individuals: Laura Hyunjee Kim, Ranjodh Singh Dhaliwal, Garrett Johnson, Bethany Doane, Judy Ehrentraut, Melissa Wills, Vanya Rachel Gnaniah , Nathanael Mengist, Maya Fidelman, Anneke Schwob, Kasyoka Mwanzia, Ryan Leach, Isabel Tweedie, Enrica Costello, Nicholaus Gutierrez, Lee Pierson, Su Min Kim, Thomas Howard, Whitney Pow, Lily Randall, Douglas James, Selvin Yaltir, Emre Koyuncuoglu, Evan Buswell, David Rambo, Douglas Stark, Karilee Stone, Heidi Biggs, Nicholas Hobin, Jason Lajoie

2019 SLSA NSF travel awards of $250 (recent PhDs/independent scholars/artists) and $400 (graduate students) were designated for the following individuals:
Garrett Laroy Johnson, Laura Hyunjee Kim, Bethany Doane, Melissa Wills, Ranjodh Singh Dhaliwal, Evan Buswell, Enrica Costello, Lee Pierson, Thomas Howard, Whitney Pow, Lily Randall, Nat Mengist, David Rambo, Douglas Stark, Nicholaus Gutierrez, Kerilee Stone, Heidi Biggs, Paige Hirschey

ANTHROPOSCENE: SLSA BOOK SERIES FROM PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY PRESS AnthropoScene is a book series from Penn State University Press, published in collaboration with the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts. While not all scientists have accepted the term “anthropocene” as part of the geological timescale, the idea that humans are changing the planet and its environments in radical and irreversible ways has provoked new kinds of cross-disciplinary thinking about relationships among the arts, human technologies, and nature. This is the broad, cross-disciplinary basis for books published in AnthropoScene.

Books in this series include specialized studies for scholars in a variety of disciplines as well as widely accessible works of interest to broad audiences. They examine, in a variety of ways, relationships and points of intersection among natural, biological, and applied sciences and literary, visual, and performing arts. The AnthropoScene series represents the depth and breadth of work being done by scholars in literature, science, and the arts, putting innovative juxtapositions within reach of specialists and non-specialists alike.

Submissions should include a three- to five-page proposal outlining the intent of the project, its scope, its relation to other work on the topic, and its intended audience(s). Please also include two to three sample chapters, if available, and your CV. Send submissions or questions to: Kendra Boileau, Assistant Director and Editor‐in‐Chief, at Or contact the series editors: Lucinda Cole at and Robert Markley at

Series Advisory Board members are Stacy Alaimo, University of Texas at Arlington; Ron Broglio, Arizona State University; Carol Colatrella, Georgia Institute of Technology; Heidi Hutner, Stony Brook University; Stephanie LeMenager, University of Oregon; Christopher Morris, University of Texas at Arlington; Laura Otis, Emory University; Will Potter, Washington, D.C.; Ronald Schleifer, University of Oklahoma; Susan Squier, Penn State University; Rajani Sudan, Southern Methodist University; and Kari Weil, Wesleyan University.

Announcing a New Title in AnthropoScene: The SLSA Book Series
Love in a Time of Slaughters: Human-Animal Stories Against Genocide and Extinction by Susan McHugh
            “[A] vital contribution to one of the most urgent conversations of our time.”—Daniel Justice, author of
Our Fire Survives the Storm: A Cherokee Literary History
In this book, Susan McHugh examines a diverse array of contemporary narratives in which genocide and extinction blur species lines in order to show how such stories can promote the preservation of biological and cultural diversity. These narratives show the vulnerabilities of affective bonds as well as the kinds of loss shared when interspecific relationships are annihilated. In this thoughtful critique, McHugh explores the potential of these narratives to become a powerful, urgent strategy of resistance to the forces that work to dehumanize people, eradicate animals, and threaten biodiversity.

Also in the AnthropoScene series:
Anthropocene Reading: Literary History in Geologic Times. Edited by Tobias Menely and Jesse Oak Taylor
Editing the Soul: Science and Fiction in the Genome Age by Everett Hamner

SLSA Member’s Only Discount from Penn State University Press: Use code SLSA30 for 30% off any AnthropoScene title purchased directly from PSU Press, plus free domestic shipping and discounts on foreign shipping!


ANTHROPOCENES: Reworking of the Wound, to be held on 17-20 June 2020 in Katowice, Poland.

Organizer: Ania Malinowska


Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts Executive Board (2019)
President: Marcel O’Gorman, University of Waterloo
Executive Director: Carol Colatrella, Georgia Institute of Technology
First Vice-President: David Cecchetto, York University, Toronto
Second Vice-President: Maria Whiteman, Indiana University
Members-at-Large: Raymond Malewitz (2018-2020); N. Adriana Knouf (2019-21); Adam Nocek (2019-21)
Graduate Student Liaisons:  Brad Necyk, University of Alberta (; Ben Platt (;Tyler Gabbard:; McKenzie Stupiča: (

Configurations Editors: Melissa Littlefield, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Rajani Sudan,               Southern Methodist University Configurations Email address:
Configurations Book Review Editor: Jeffrey Karnicky, Department of English, 2505 University Avenue,
Drake University, Des Moines, IA 50311. Email:
Publications Committee: Pamela Gossin; Raymond Malewitz; Bruce Clarke

Electronic Resources Coordinator: Wayne Miller, Duke University (

Arts Liaisons: Dennis Summers (; Kiki Benzon (;
Maria Whiteman (
Social Media Liaisons: Ed Chang (; Nicole Fletcher (; Adriana
Knouf (
Past Presidents: Ron Broglio, Arizona State University; Robert Markley, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Laura Otis, Emory University; Richard Nash, Indiana University; Alan Rauch, University of North Carolina-Charlotte; Bruce Clarke, Texas Tech University; Eve Keller, Fordham University; Jay Labinger, California Institute of Technology; T. Hugh Crawford, Georgia Tech; Susan Squier, Penn State; Sidney Perkowitz, Emory University; Stuart Peterfreund, Northeastern University; James J. Bono, SUNY-Buffalo; N. Katherine Hayles, Duke University; Mark Greenberg, Drexel University; Lance Schachterle, Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Stephen J. Weininger, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

The Executive Director can be reached at (404) 894-1241 or
Postal address: Carol Colatrella, Executive Director, SLSA, School of Literature, Media, and Communication, Georgia Institute of Technology, 686 Cherry Street, Atlanta, GA  30332-0165

SLSA websites: and