Extinctions and Rebellions

On Saturday 16th November 2019, we are hosting the BSLS Winter Symposium on the theme of Extinctions and Rebellions. The Symposium has been organised by Dr Anna Burton and Dr Sally Blackburn. Scroll down for the full programme and to register.

Call for Papers

“We are at a time in history where everyone with any insight of the climate crisis that threatens our civilisation – and the entire biosphere – must speak out in clear language, no matter how uncomfortable and unprofitable that may be.”

In 2019, extinction is no longer the province of dinosaurs, the Dodo, or species far away in space and time. As Greta Thunberg argued in her Davos speech earlier this year, and as the ongoing socio-political efforts of the Extinction Rebellion suggest, extinction of the human (as well as the non-human) is an immediate concern and a very possible outcome of the climate crisis, unless significant action is taken by all. With this in mind, the ‘Extinctions and Rebellions’ symposium will think about the varied cultural discourses of extinction, past and present. It will not only be a platform to discuss current environmental and ecological concerns of the Anthropocene in the cultural imagination, but it also offers a space to think about how previous literary and scientific forms have imagined extinction as a process or finality, and how these conversations speak to and could offer a means to think about our current climate crisis. Moreover, we will explore ‘extinction’ and ‘rebellion’ as they pertain to questions of literary form and scientific theory and practice. This one-day event will allow postgraduates, early-career researchers, and academics to think about how the sciences and humanities can work together, inform, and facilitate the “clear language” needed to rebel against human and non-human extinction.

The questions presented by this symposium theme are relevant to all researchers, and we welcome delegates from varied career stages to allow for a diverse discussion. However, ‘Extinctions and Rebellions’ will also focus on how researchers in the earlier phases of their career can start (or continue) to think about the relevance and impacts of their work. The question of ‘Impact’ for REF2021 is one often discussed by established academics, but through a ‘Literature, Science, and Impact’ roundtable, this event will encourage postgraduates and ECRs to discuss the ways in which this field and their work can create changes to thinking and behaviours, and what this can mean for their future research too. 

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Non-human Species and Ecological Biodiversity
  • Climate Crisis, Environmentalism, and the Anthropocene
  • Imagining the End of the World and/or the Apocalypse
  • Scientific Extinctions (discourses that have been disproved or are no longer relevant)
  • Extinct or Dormant Literary Forms (which have a bearing on science)
  • Transhumanism and/or Posthumanism (ways of extending life and humanity beyond extinction using technology)
  • Creative writing and Extinction

 We welcome proposals for 20 minute papers. Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words to bslsrebellions@gmail.com by Monday 23rd September 2019, accompanied by a short biography (100 words). We are also seeking a couple of  kind volunteers for the Impact Roundtable, so if interested in participating, please get in touch!

To register for the symposium please do so here


BSLS Winter Symposium: ‘Extinctions and Rebellions’

Friday Evening:
Meal at Bundobust (Vegetarian/Vegan Indian Street Food Restaurant on Bold St.)

9.45 -10.15 – Registration, tea and coffee
10.15 -10.30 – Welcome and Introductory Remarks from Chair and Organisers
10.30 -12.15 – Panels 1 & 2

Panel 1: Extinction and De-extinction
- De-extinction and the ethics of modernity
Professor Jerome de Groot, University of Manchester

- “Test Tube Tiger: The Thylacine in Species Revivalist Fiction”
Dr Sarah Bezan, Newton International Fellow, The University of Sheffield Animal Studies Research Centre

- The Grammar of Extinction
Dr Michael Malay, University of Bristol

- The Extinction of the Jabberwock: The Palaeontological Grotesque from the 1880s to the 1940s
(Dr Richard Fallon, University College London)

Panel 2: Ecology in Children’s and Young Adult Literatures
- Environmental crisis and children’s picture books
Dr Emily Alder, Edinburgh Napier University

- Weird Ecologies, Precarity and Care in Young Adult Fiction
Dr Chloé Germaine Buckley, Manchester Metropolitan University

- Of Moths, Chimney Sweepers, and Silent Springs: Storytelling Environmental Crisis and in the Victorian age and today
Dr Franziska Kohlt, Brasenose College, Oxford

- Trauma, Storytelling and the Anthropocene in Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves
Beata Gubacsi, University of Liverpool

12.15-13.30 – Lunch & visit to Errant Muse exhibition at VG&M

13.30-15.00 – Panels 3 & 4

Panel 3: Biodiversity and Species Loss
- ‘Immortal Bird’? The nightingale in decline
Dr Bethan Roberts, University of Liverpool

- Beyond Skin: Encounters with the Paradise Parrot
Miranda Cichy, University of Glasgow

- Life, Territory, and Care in a Time of Annihilation
Dr Aidan Tynan, Cardiff University

Panel 4: Cli-Fi and Possible Futures
- Knowing and not-knowing: the future fate of humankind in Richard Jefferies’ After London and Robert Harris’ The Second Sleep.
Dr Adrian Tait, Independent Scholar and Ecocritic

- Trees, Entanglement, Extinction: Charismatic Megaflora in Contemporary Fiction
Ida Olsen, PhD Researcher, Ghent University

- Technological Consciousness and Duration in H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds
Olly Teregulova, Doctoral Von Hügel scholar, Durham University

15.00-16.00– Impact Roundtable

Professor Georgina Endfield, Professor Jerome de Groot, Dr Greg Lynall, Dr Franziska Kohlt, Mariana Roccia and Jessica Iubini- Hampton (5 mins each, then open questions to floor)

16.00-16.30 – Tea and Coffee

16.30-17.30 – Keynote Dr Sam Solnick [Title TBD]

17.30-18.30 – Wine Reception


To download a printable version of the programme, and for abstracts and biographies, please click here