Literature and the Environment Conference to be Held at SC

Southwestern College will host “The World We Have Imagined: Literature, Nature, and the Environment” international conference April 4-6.  All of the panels will be held in Mossman Hall room 101. There is no admission charge and the public is invited to attend. On Friday, April 5, at 8:30 a.m., the keynote lecture will be presented by Elizabeth Dodd, a professor of creative writing and literature at Kansas State University.

“The World We Have Imagined” conference provides an opportunity for U.S. and international scholars to exchange ideas on the relationship between literature, nature, and the environment. The conference papers will focus on the idea of the environmental imagination, imaginary worlds, and imagined futures.

“What a unique opportunity this is,” says John Scaggs, professor of English at Southwestern College.  “It’s not just that it’s an international conference; we’ve managed to bring together people from different disciplines, too, and the cross-fertilization of ideas from different disciplines and even from different countries that the conference is encouraging is really important.”

According to Scaggs, scholars from Germany and the Ukraine will be presenting at the conference, and from within the United States.

“We have people coming from Georgia, California, New Jersey, North Carolina, as well as Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, and, of course, Kansas,” says Scaggs.  “As far as the different disciplines are concerned, we have geology, history, librarian studies, and literature (in several different languages) being represented.”

Keynote speaker Dodd is the author of “Horizon’s Lens” and “In the Mind’s Eye: Essays Across the Animate World,” which won the Best Creative Book Award from the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment in 2009. She is also the author of “Prospect: Journeys & Landscapes,” which won the William Rockhill Nelson Best Nonfiction Book award in 2003, and of two collections of poetry: “Like Memory, Caverns,” which won the Elmer Holmes Bobst award in 1992, and “Archetypal Light.”

Dodd has also written a critical book, “The Veiled Mirror and the Woman Poet: H.D., Louise Bogan, Elizabeth Bishop, and Louise Gluck,” and regularly publishes in the field of ecocriticism, with essays on Scott Russell Sanders, James Wright, Terry Tempest Williams, and Michael S. Harper, as well as other topics. She is on the editorial board of ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment and A Journal of the Built & Natural Environments, for which she is a regular columnist. Dodd is a KSU Distinguished Professor, has twice won the Stamey Award for outstanding teaching from KSU's College of Arts and Sciences, and has twice won the Kansas Arts Council's Fellowship in Poetry.

“The World We Have Imagined” conference is hosting a photography competition open to students, alumni, and the Southwestern College community. The photographer who best captures and communicates sustainability will be awarded a cash price of $75. Photographs will be displayed April 1-21 in the President’s Gallery in the Darbeth Fine Arts Center.  The deadline to submit photos is Monday, March 25.

The conference website is at  For more information contact Jane Handlin at (620) 229-6293 or e-mail