“Watershed, lit., fig.,” is the theme of the 2020 Association for Literature, Environment, and Culture in Canada (ALECC) biennial conference, an interdisciplinary conference of environmental humanities and literary scholars, creative writers, artists, and environmental activists who will discuss watersheds in a literal and figurative sense. As watersheds refer to crucial periods or turning points, as well as to drainage basins for water and the land situated immediately between rivers, “Watershed, lit., fig.” provides a compelling opportunity to discuss physical watersheds in terms of the crucial period we are living through, marked by climate, extinction, and migration emergencies, new political formations, and shifting forms of writing, media, mediation, and data.
Initially planned for June 2020, the full, on-site conference is being postponed until 2022. We are pleased to be going ahead with an online conference for July 8-22nd, 2020. The conference will showcase research, scholarly, artistic, and community-engaged work by presenters from across the country and internationally, approximately 25 per cent of whom are creative writers and artists. Inspired by prairie river valleys, and in particular our host site in the Meewasin Valley in the South Saskatchewan River Basin, the conference program features thoughtful responses to movements between the literal and figurative, the personal and historical, and to critical times and turning points in watershed and other ecologies, Indigenous thought and practice, ecopoetics, new materialisms, fictional and nonfictional narrative, life writing, film, ecomedia studies, environmental histories, cultural geography, environmental philosophy, cultural studies, and related areas of environmental studies.