Decodings Winter (Feb) 2021


Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts Newsletter                     

Winter 2021, Vol. 30, No.2

*Executive Committee Meeting Notes

*Election 2021

*Committee Members and Appointments
*Membership Renewal

*Policies: Respectful Behavior and Freedom of Speech

*AnthropoScene Book Series

*SLSA Europe News


SLSA Executive Meeting,Thursday 2/4/21

Attending: David Cecchetto, Ed Chang, Ranjodh Singh Dhaliwal, Elizabeth Donaldson, Jay Labinger, Melissa Littlefield, Raymond Malewitz, Wayne Miller, Laura Otis, Alan Rauch, Susan Squier, Dennis Summers, Arielle Saiber, Paula Leverage, Carol Colatrella

President’s report on book series: David Cecchetto and Arielle Saiber reported on the recently signed contract with the University of Minnesota Press for a book series titled “Proximities” to be launched after the conclusion of “AnthropoScene.” “Proximities” will include only monographs. Send questions or inquiries to David ( or Arielle ( See

2021 Conference report: Irina Aristarkhova acknowledged that expected public health conditions have encouraged the organizers to plan SLSA 2021 as a virtual conference to take place in late September/early October. There will be an associated art exhibit on the University of Michigan campus. Irina is currently investigating online platforms to host the conference. Discussion considered the best way to determine the likely number of virtual attendees given that the special event attracted approximately 100, while recent conferences in situ have attracted about 400 attendees. Estimating attendance is critical in selecting a virtual platform as contract prices are determined based on estimated attendance and numbers of days and of concurrent sessions. Irina will soon share more details about conference plans.

SLSA 2022 Planning: David introduced 2022 conference organizer Paula Leverage who shared information about the planned location, Purdue University. She has just begun to plan the event and mentioned the capacity of Purdue to host art in Patti and Rusty Rueff Galleries. Paul later sent links to two previous Rueff exhibits:


Journal report: Melissa Littlefield provided a short report on an upcoming special issue of Configurations and indicated that the editors will help Carol Colatrella, Elizabeth Donaldson, and members of the Publications Committee develop a policy for academic misconduct related to the journal and the pending book series. The journal already follows COPE guidelines (attached); an SLSA policy will formally acknowledge and build on these guidelines.

Electronic resources report: Wayne Miller, Ed Chang, Ranjodh Singh Dhaliwal reported on the website, Facebook group, and the recently revived Twitter feed.

Nominations committee report: Melissa Littlefield and Raymond Malewitz recruited two candidates to run for member-at-large in the spring election. Links to the 2021 ballot will be sent to 2020 and 2021 members.

Lifetime achievement committee report: The SLSA Lifetime Achievement Award committee is seeking nominations for candidates whose significant, interdisciplinary scholarship is exemplary of SLSA. If you would like to nominate a scholar whose lifetime of work has made a great contribution to the interdisciplinary study of literature, science, and the arts, please explain in a brief statement (about one double-spaced page, or about 250 words) why you think this candidate would make an ideal recipient of the SLSA Lifetime Achievement Award. Please send your statement to all three committee members (Laura Otis, Elizabeth Donaldson, and Ben Platt by May 15, 2021. We look forward to reading your nominations. Nominations from previous years are carried over to future years, so if your candidate does not win this year, she or he will be considered in future years.

Proposal for satellite event: David reported on plans for “Reading Accidentals: Scholars, Scientists, and Novelists in Conversation,” a March 25th special event. In biology, an “accidental” is an individual animal that has wandered far from its normal range for mysterious reasons, often related to aberrant weather during migration or genetic mutations. Scholars Ursula K. Heise and Jay Clayton, biologist Auriel Fournier, and novelist Susan M. Gaines will discuss the avian and human accidentals—and the concepts of nature and science—in Gaines’s multilayered new science novel. SLSA members from across the spectrum of humanities scholarship, the sciences, and the arts, will be invited to join in with comments and questions. A link to the virtual event will be shared in a future listserv message.


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.  Ranjodh Singh Dhaliwal has joined Ed Chang in developing SLSA social media, Twitter and Facebook respectively. SLSA members interested in contributing to social media on behalf of the society are encouraged to email Ed ( ) and Ranjodh (

MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL: Please remember to renew your membership; 2021 rates are here:

Benefits of membership include the newsletter Decodings, the LITSCI listserv, and the journal Configurations, which explores the relations of literature and the arts to the sciences and technology. Founded in 1993, the journal continues to set the stage for transdisciplinary research concerning the interplay between science, technology, and the arts.

Looking for the latest research in science and technology studies? Members can access to the Configurations online archive of articles, useful resources for teaching and scholarship at the above link.

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.

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.

After five years, Lucinda and Bob have decided to step down. Penn State Press will continue to work with the authors who already have submitted manuscripts to the series; there are a number of manuscripts under consideration and others under contract. Send questions to: Kendra Boileau, Assistant Director and Editor‐in‐Chief, at Or contact the SLSA liaison for the series, Pamela Gossin at or

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
*Kieran Murphy’s book Electromagnetism and the Metonymic Imagination, is coming out in spring 2020. It will be available to order through the press website with the regular discount, despite warehouse operations being temporarily suspended:
*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!


SLSAeu 2021 – Bergen, 4-7 March 2021: Literary & Aesthetic Posthumanism
The conference will be held in Bergen, Norway.
Co-hosts: University of Bergen and University of Basel
Conference chair: Joseph Tabbi (U. of Bergen)
SLSAeu is the sister organization of the international, USA-based Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts.
It welcomes colleagues in the humanities, the social sciences, the arts, all fields of science, medicine, engineering,
computer sciences as well as independent scholars, artists and scientists.

Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts Executive Board (2020-21)
President: David Cecchetto, York University, Toronto (

Executive Director: Carol Colatrella, Georgia Institute of Technology (
First Vice-President: Maria Whiteman, Indiana University (

Second Vice-President: Rajani Sudan, Southern Methodist University (
Members-at-Large: Raymond Malewitz (2018-2020); N. Adriana Knouf (2019-21); Adam Nocek (2019-21)
Graduate Student Liaisons: 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 (

Arts Liaisons: Dennis Summers (; Kiki Benzon (;
Maria Whiteman (
Social Media Liaisons: Ed Chang (; Adriana Knouf (; Ranjodh
Singh Dhaliwal (

Ombudspersons: Marcel O’Gorman ( and Kari Nixon (
Past Presidents: Marcel O’Gorman, University of Waterloo; 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