Decodings Winter 2020


Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts Newsletter                       

Winter 2020, Vol. 29, No.1 (January edition)

*SLSA 2020, “Energy,” University of Michigan

*Committees Requests

*Policies: Respectful Behavior and Freedom of Speech

*Election Statements

*AnthropoScene Book Series

*SLSA Europe News 


34th Annual Meeting in Ann Arbor, MI, USA

Friday, October 16 through Sunday October 18, 2020

Hosted by the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design

Conference Chair: Irina Aristarkhova

Confirmed Keynote: Lisa Nakamura

CFP and Submissions: The SLSA 2020 theme will be “Energy,” and papers, panels and artwork submissions on all SLSA-related topics are welcome. We seek proposals for panels and individual papers that deal with topics related to the expanded notion of energy. Energy (etymologically meaning “in or at work, working”) connects us to the most pressing issues of the day: mental and physical vitality or fatigue (individual and collective, personal and political, creative and professional); the sources of energy (their extraction, depletion, abundance and exhaustion); scientific theories and creative imagination around relation between matter and energy (as in electromagnetic, particle, gravitational, acoustic forms of radiation; the living and the non-living, metamorphosis). Energy also connects science and profit, history and war, flesh and labor. Building on previous SLSA topics “Out of Time” and “(Out of) Mind,” in October 2020 we also invite you to consider the meaning of being “out of energy.”

For individual papers, contributors should submit a 250-word abstract along with title and affiliation. Pre-organized panels submissions, which might include three or four papers per panel, should include an additional paragraph describing the rubric and proposed title of the panel. Roundtables, creative contributions, alternative format panels, and the like are encouraged. As usual, we request that you limit yourselves whenever possible to ONE proposal so that we are able to include as many participants as possible. Exceptions will be made for those submitting to more than one format, e.g. panel, roundtable, workshop. For these, please submit up to 500 words describing your proposed activity. If necessary you may also include supporting material as a PDF.

SLSA Membership: Participants in the 2020 Conference must be 2020 members of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts. For more information about joining SLSA, visit the organization’s website at . To become a member, go here:

Conference proposals for papers, panels, and roundtables can be submitted here after February 1, 2020:

Deadline for proposals: April 1, 2020.

Questions? For questions and inquiries email:

Travel to Ann Arbor via the Detroit Wayne County International Airport (DTW)

Conference Location: Penny W. School of Art & Design and partners will host the 2020 Annual Meeting of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts, which will be held at the Michigan Union and Michigan League in Ann Arbor.

Conference Schedule: Please note that panels will run all day Friday (10/16), Saturday (10/17) and Sunday (10/18). We plan to open registration and breakfast at 8 am on Friday and the first panels will take place at 9 am. At lunchtime, there will be the Members Exhibition Opening Event; in the afternoon, the first keynote address followed by the opening reception at the Stamps Gallery in central Ann Arbor. The annual members’ lunch will take place on Saturday, with a second keynote address followed by a performance event in the evening. Sunday will feature a lunchtime plenary session. The conference will end at 6 pm on Sunday. Also, note that the Presidential Debate for November 2020 election will take place in Ann Arbor on Thursday night. Allow for extra time at the airport and book your travel and accommodation early, especially if you plan to arrive on Thursday. The conference team will do our best to finish the review of submissions and send acceptance letters in May.

Accommodations:  Note that the main conference venues are Michigan Union and Michigan League on Central Campus. Ann Arbor is well served by Uber and Lyft, and some hotels offer shuttle service to central campus. In addition to the hotels contacted by the conference organizers, members may wish to check or Expedia to look for hotels close to the conference venues. We have negotiated conference rates at the following hotels:

Even Hotels
Conference Rate: $139/night
Rooms Available: 1 0
Address: 600 Briarwood Circle, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
Phone Number: 734. 761. 7800
Note: Reservations must be made on or before September 16th 2020

Hilton Garden Inn
Conference Rate: $ 139/night
Rooms Available: 2 0
Address: 1401 Briarwood Circle, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
Phone Number: 734. 327. 6400
Note: Reservations must be made on or before September 16th 2020

Holiday Inn
Conference Rate: $229/night
Rooms Available: 2 0
Hotel has a free shuttle to campus (based on availability).
Address: 3600 Plymouth Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
Phone Number: 734. 769. 9800
Note: Room reservations must be made on or before September 25th 2020

TownePlace Suites
Conference Rate: $179/night
Rooms Available: 4 0
Address: 1301 Briarwood Circle, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
Phone Number: 734. 327. 5900
Note: Reservations must be made through the following link:

Weber’s Inn
Conference Rate: $99/night
Rooms Available: 3 0
Address: 3040 Jackson Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Phone Number: 800. 443. 3050
Note: Reserve with Group # 3188001 on or before September 16th 2020


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: &  

Committee Requests

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 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 apply by emailing Carol Colatrella (; include a short statement of why you are interested in serving in this role and what experience you can bring the position.

Marcel O’Gorman ( and Kari Nixon ( have volunteered to serve as ombudspersons. Current officers will also review future applications to make additional appointments.

Role of SLSA Ombudsperson                                                            

Each 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 an 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.

[In early February, SLSA 2019 and 2020 members will receive an email link to an electronic ballot. Votes should be cast by March 15, 2020]

For second vice-president (to serve fall 2020-fall 2022 and in turn as first vice-president and then president:

Rajani Sudan, English Department, Southern Methodist University

I began attending the annual SLSA conference as an assistant professor, back in the days when it was SLS. My impression then and now is of a society that fosters innovative scholarship, intellectual rigor, and truly transdisciplinary approaches. I hope to see the society continue to grow from this position, and the recent efforts to not only include but also engage artistic production make me particularly optimistic that it will do so.

My work as co-editor of Configurations has made me especially aware of new trends in transdisciplinary scholarship, and our editorial team is constantly working to improve and refine the journal. My own interests are primarily historical, but I don’t believe that history exists merely as a repository for anecdote and chronology, as Thomas Kuhn famously argues in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Rather, my approach is interdisciplinary, sometimes collaborative, but always seeking to identify the anomalies that both establish and break with historical continuum. As such, I am working on the connections between 18th- and 19th-C colonial infrastructure and the language of digital technology. I strongly believe that race, class, gender, and sexuality deeply inform STS, and to that end I want to work to see diversity reflected in the society’s members as well as in its governance.

For second vice-president (to serve fall 2020-fall 2022 and in turn as first vice-president and then president:     (continued)

Dan Vandersommers, History Department, Ball State University

I am a Teaching Assistant Professor at Ball State University. Previously, I have been an NEH Postdoctoral Fellow at the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Philadelphia and an SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in Animal History at McMaster University. I have also served as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Mississippi and Kenyon College. My work sits at the intersection of environmental history, cultural history, and animal studies. My first book is a coedited volume titled Zoo Studies: A New Humanities, which was published by McGill-Queens University Press in July 2019. My next book (my dissertation turned monograph) is titled Humanism Encaged: Popular Zoology and the American Zoo is under contract with the University Press of Kansas. Not only have I published widely, but I have also taught 2,500 students in very different, yet all quite diverse, university environments.

Member-at-Large (to serve fall 2020-fall 2022)

Elizabeth Donaldson, English Department, New York Institute of Technology

I am pleased to be nominated for member-at-large of SLSA. I have been a member since 1997, when I was a graduate student studying nature writing and American literature at SUNY, Stony Brook. Now my research focuses on feminist disability studies of mental health, and I direct the medical humanities minor at the New York Institute of Technology. I have published on LSD-inspired disability-immersion experiences of schizophrenia, mental illness in graphic medicine and comics, antipsychiatry in Lauren Slater’s memoirs, and physiognomy and madness in Jane Eyre. As the member-at-large for SLSA I would like to advocate for disability issues in the SLSA community and at our annual conference, in order to foster greater participation and better access for our members.

David Parisi, Communication Department, College of Charleston

I am an Associate Professor of Emerging Media at the College of Charleston who researches the intersections of touch, science, and media technology. I have been an active member of SLSA since I first attended the 2012 conference. During this time, I have organized 4 panel streams around the theme of reconfiguring sensations, frequently recruiting panelists from outside of the organization. By serving ss a Member-At-Large, I hope to gain a better understanding of the organization’s goals and mission while also helping to shape the fields and modes of intellectual engagement represented at the annual conferences.

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.

Titles in AnthropoScene: The SLSA Book Series
*Love in a Time of Slaughters: Human-Animal Stories Against Genocide and Extinction by Susan McHugh
*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 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 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 (

Ombudspersons: Marcel O’Gorman ( and Kari Nixon (
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