• 07.12.2023 - 08.12.2023
  • 🇩🇰 Dänemark / Kopenhagen
  • University of Copenhagen in collaboration with Lund University
  • zur Website

Rethinking the rural North through environmental literature, film, and TV

In the ten-minute animated promotional film Noget om Norden (Something about Scandinavia, 1956, DK), the five Nordic countries are presented by their natural resources and the related industries: sulphur, wool, and fish in Iceland; hydroelectricity in Norway; cellulose and paper industry in Finland; extraction of iron in Sweden; farming in Denmark. In this political propa-gandist film, the rural is a repository for human use and the direct source of Nordic modernity, embodied by a ‘Viking’ plane circling the Earth in the final scene.

Today, in light of the recent climate and biodiversity crisis, the view of rural areas as a resource for human use has come under scrutiny. Overfishing, soil depletion and forest degradation are serious environmental problems that challenge the idea of resource extraction as the engine of rural development. Also, increasing urbanisation and growing rural exodus put pressure on rural areas.

The conference, Rethinking the rural North through environmental literature, film, and TV, seeks to investigate the multi-layered ways in which “the Rural” is negotiated, contested, and reimagined from an environmental humanities approach. More specifically, the focus is on the multiple dimensions of contemporary literature, film, and television engaged with environmen-tal issues in a rural context. How do literary and filmic works question the taken for granted and often invisible uses of resources? Which aesthetic means are deployed to depict today’s rural landscapes troubled by human impact? And which alternative forms of living and working in rural areas, based on nonextractive land and sea use, are brought to the fore?

The conference starts from the premise that cultural representations and imaginations have great potential to reflect, archive, and shape our relation to the environment. As a medium of lived experience, they can transport us, both cognitively and emotionally, into an awareness of our dependency on healthy ecosystems. By highlighting the crucial role played by cultural imagi-nations in determining what aspects of the contemporary rural Scandinavia are foregrounded, which rural voices, including those of nonhuman actors, are listened to, and how these voices might mobilize the rural socially and politically, we aspire to contribute both to the cultural turn in rural studies and the rural turn in cultural studies, as well as to scarce ecocritical conceptu-alizations within these fields.

We particularly welcome contributions related to literary and screen imaginations of:

  • rural sustainability and new rural identities
  • human-nonhuman entanglements and multispecies flourishing
  • deconstructions of the rural-urban divide
  • climate change impact on rural communities
  • shifting farm- and foodscapes
  • gardens, forests, windmill farms and solar parks
  • trends in rewilding and nature restauration projects
  • resource extraction in an ecocritical humanities approach
  • different aspects of hydropower, fishery, aquaculture, and coastal cultures

As well as more theoretical reflections on

  • rural cultural studies as an emerging discipline within environmental humanities
  • the use of traditional rural genres such as pastoral and georgic, as well as more experi-mental ways of storytelling
  • sustainability in screen industry

And all forms of:

  • aesthetic practices concerning new ways of living and working in “green communities”, including human and nonhuman agents.