Decodings Spring 2021 (updated)


Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts Newsletter                     

Spring 2021, Vol. 30, No.3 (updated)

*SLSA Special Event 

*ENERGY–SLSA 2021 Conference 

*Election 2021 

*2/24/21 Executive Committee Meeting Notes 

*Committee Members and Appointments
*Membership Renewal 

*Policies: Respectful Behavior and Freedom of Speech

*AnthropoScene Book Series 

*SLSA Europe News 


SLSA SPECIAL EVENT: “Reading Accidentals: Scholars, Scientists, and Novelists in Conversation”  

Thursday, March 25, 2021, 7pm EST via Zoom 

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, Accidentals. Comments and questions from the audience will be welcome.

This special event will take place virtually on March 25 at 7PM EST. Registration (free) is open to all and available here:  Please share widely across your various networks!

ENERGY–SLSA 2021, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN                                                     CALL FOR PAPERS 

The Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts invites submissions for its 34th annual meeting on September 30 – October 3, 2021. Penny W. School of Art & Design and partners will host the SLSA2021, which will be held virtually from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Due to the uncertain nature of the continuing pandemic, the conference is currently planned as fully virtual.

The Call for Submissions on EasyChair can be found here:

The Submission link can be found here:

Participants in SLSA 2021 must be current members of SLSA. To become a member, go here:

Conference website:

Submissions for the 34th Meeting for the Society SLSA2021 will be accepted in these categories:

  •     Individual papers and pre-organized panels
  •     Workshops, roundtables, arts lounges, and social networking events
  •     A Poster Member Virtual Exhibition

Submission deadline: May 1, 2021

Theme: Energy

We seek submissions for panels, individual papers, roundtables, workshops, arts lounges, social networking events, and creative work 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), including in the pandemic; the sources of energy (their extraction, depletion, abundance, and exhaustion; bitcoin mining and computational infrastructures; body energy, its flow, exploitation, alienation, and finitude); scientific theories and creative imagination around the relation between matter and energy (as in electromagnetic, particle, gravitational, acoustic forms of radiation; the living and the non-living, metamorphosis). Submissions are also invited that explore how energy is connected to power, science, and profit, history and war, flesh and labor. Building on previous SLSA topics “Out of Time” and “(Out of) Mind,” in Fall 2021 we also invite you to consider the meaning of having or being “out of energy.”

Due to the uncertain nature of the pandemic year, the conference is planned as fully virtual. Though our intention is to follow the format of previous SLSA conferences with synchronous live presentations (similar to the Modern Literature Association 2021 conference), chairs will be responsible for their panels and could decide with their individual panelists if a pre-recorded presentation is necessary due to time difference or other circumstances. To facilitate SLSA community gathering opportunities, in addition to individual papers, panels, roundtables, workshops, and artwork submissions, this year we invite submissions for organized social networking events and arts lounges to discuss and share research interests and creative work in less formal settings.

– For individual papers, contributors should submit a 250-word abstract along with title and affiliation; this year we are particularly interested in pre-organized panels that might include three or four papers per panel and should include the chair/panel organizer name, the title of the panel, and an additional paragraph describing the panel topic. All panels are expected to run for a customary length of 1 hour 30 minutes. Thematic streams of panels are welcome and will be sequentially scheduled as much as possible.

– For workshops, roundtables, arts lounges, and social networking events please submit up to 500 words of description, with participant names and affiliations where applicable; this year, we invite new submissions for arts lounges and social networking events. Arts lounges will serve as curated conversations around creative contributions responding to the topic of energy, such as visual arts, performing arts, and creative writing. Social networking events are meant to be virtual spaces for members to come together around their common interests, such as stream topics, ongoing conversations on new developing projects, new publication, and creative ideas, etc. Workshops, roundtables, arts lounges, and social networking events will be provided a customary length of 1 hour 30 minutes. Thematic streams are welcome and will be sequentially scheduled as much as possible.

– For Poster Member Virtual Exhibition submissions, submit up to 500 words describing your artwork (include the title of work; media; year created; URL to your website; image credit) and a .JPG file of up to 10 MB in file size and image of 1500 pixels or higher (horizontal orientation preferred). Format: .jpg.   


For questions and inquiries email:


ELECTION 2021—vote by April 5, 2021 

The SLSA  2021 election will open on February 21, 2021 and close on April 5, 2021 at midnight EST.  Please visit and log in with your user name and password to cast your ballot for the two-year position of Member-at-Large.

Voting is open to all active members.  If  necessary, you can renew your membership for 2021 at

Having trouble logging in? Visit to have your user name sent to you or to reset your password.  You may also contact customer service at the Johns Hopkins University Press Journals Division at 1-800-548-1784 (US & Canada only, all others call 410-516-6987). Mon-Fri 8:00am-5:00 pm, or via e-mail at

2021 SLSA Member-at-Large Candidates

Anne Hudson Jones 

Statement of Interest and experience: My primary interests and experience are in the areas of literature and medicine, interdisciplinary medical humanities, and the arts in clinical education and practice. My current research interests focus on narratives of medical catastrophes, caused by pandemics such as Covid-19 or by natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, earthquake in Haiti, and nuclear disaster in Fukushima. The complex interdependencies of medicine, science, and technology with narrative, music, poetry, and art that are so important in responding to such catastrophic events have been at the core of the intellectual work and inquiry the SLSA has fostered since its inception as SLS. I believe it is more important now than ever to strengthen the connections between the scholarly work in medical and health humanities with that of SLSA members, and I want to help make that happen.

Biography: Anne Hudson Jones is the Hobby Family Professor in the Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston, where she is Director of the Medical Humanities Track in the School of Medicine. She is a founding editor and former editor-in-chief of Literature and Medicine. Her articles on literature and medicine, narratives of illness, and narrative ethics have been published widely in medical and humanities journals such as Academic Medicine, Annals of Internal Medicine, BMJ, and The Lancet, as well as in Journal of Medical Humanities, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, and Theoretical Medicine.

Josh DiCaglio 

Statement of Interest and experience: Since I first heard about SLSA as an undergraduate in Laura Walls’s Literature and Science class over ten years ago, it has served as an essential community, providing valuable models for what a scholar can be, fruitful professional connections, and excellent opportunities for sharing research. I have attended SLSA four times (once at the SLSAeu in Malta), and my article, which was recently published in Configurations, won the 2020 SLSA’s Schachterle essay prize. In response to this incredible support, I’d like an opportunity to assist the organization as a member-at-large. I hope to assist in whatever way I can to help the organization remain an exciting and rigorous venue for innovative work on science in the arts and humanities, including assisting the organization with bouncing back from the disruptions brought by Covid-19.

Biography: Joshua DiCaglio is an Assistant Professor in English at the Texas A&M University, specializing in rhetoric of science, history and theory of rhetoric, and environmental humanities. His book, Scale Theory: A Nondisciplinary Inquiry, is forthcoming with the University of Minnesota Press in 2021. This book develops a theory of scale arising from the simple observation: how is it possible that science has rewritten any given object (e.g. your body) in these multiple and seemingly conflicting levels (as atoms, cells, ecological vectors, elements in the thermodynamic dispersal of the sun)? This project has spawned side projects that examine particular manifestations and applications of scale, including a piece in Environmental Communication that argues that scale and interconnection are the primary rhetorical challenges entailed by ecology and another in Configurations on the challenges presented by representations of scale.

SLSA Executive Meeting Notes, 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 the series.  

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 AnthropoScene titles purchased directly from PSU Press, plus free domestic shipping and discounts on foreign shipping!


SLSAeu 2021 – Bergen, was held 4-7 March 2021 in Bergen, Norway: Literary & Aesthetic Posthumanism
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 (2021)
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: Elizabeth Donaldson (2020-22); 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