Beyond Thoreau: American and International Responses to Nature




An International Conference:

Beyond Thoreau:

American and International

Responses to Nature


Tsinghua University, Beijing

October 10-12, 2008


The International Conference, Beyond Thoreau: American and International Responses to Nature, co-sponsored by Tsinghua University and the United States Fulbright Commission, will be the first international conference on ecocriticism in Beijing. It welcomes papers on topics related to literature and environment from diverse theoretical, cultural, and social perspectives. In particular, the conference encourages papers on the following topics:


1. Beyond Thoreau: e.g., the impact of Thoreau globally, writers comparable to Thoreau from other cultures, Thoreau’s relevance to contemporary environmental issues

2. New theoretical approaches to literature and environment: e.g., Chinese and other international theoretical approaches, developments in ecofeminism

3. Interdisciplinary approaches to the environment: e.g., in addition to literature, the response of diverse arts—film, music, dance, photography, visual arts, visual culture in general—to the environment and environmental concerns

4. Social responses to literature and environment: e.g., postcolonial responses to literature and the environment, development and ecocriticism, international environmental issues and literature

5. Agrarian issues in literature and environment: e.g., farming and the production of food in contemporary literature, issues regarding water, air, or energy in literature, possibilities for a Thoreauvian life on the farm

6. Urban issues in literature and environment: e.g., nature in contemporary urban literature, issues regarding water, air, and energy in literature about city life, the consumption of food in literature and its relation to the environment, the possibilities for a Thoreauvian life in the city

7. Individual writers in China, the US, or other cultures whose writings are relevant to nature and the environment

8. Theoretical reflections on the development of ecocriticism and its relevance for the future


This conference intends to impact imagining, creating, thinking, and action regarding the critical relationships between human cultures and the environment in China, the United States, and throughout the world. With internationally distinguished scholars of ecocriticism and with participants from around the world, the conference hopes to encourage dialogue among all of its members. The conference’s official languages will be English, and occasionally Chinese. Arrangements will be made for selected papers to be published separately in special issues in international journals or in book form.

            The conference will be held on Tsinghua University’s extensive and beautiful campus. China’s best known university for science, technology, and engineering, Tsinghua is also highly regarded for its outstanding programs in the humanities and social sciences. Conference side trips are planned to several of Beijing’s outstanding parks, including the Great Wall, the Summer Palace, as well as into the Western Hills which partially surround the city.

            For abstract submission and registration, please check the conference website: The deadline for abstract submission is ­the end of April 2008. Notification for acceptance and formal letters of invitation (necessary for obtaining Chinese visas) will be no later than early July 2008. Please contact the conference co-organizers for further information:


Prof. Wang Ning

Department of Foreign Languages

Tsinghua University                              

Beijing, 100084 PRC

Phone:  86-10-62781027                                           




Prof. Elizabeth Schultz

Department of English

University of Kansas

Lawrence, KS 66044 USA

Phone: 785-842-1305