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Surrealism and Ecology (edited volume, Vernon Press)

Surrealism and Ecology (edited volume, Vernon Press)

Publié le par Université de Lausanne (Source : Iveta Slavkova)

Editors:  Iveta Slavkova, Anne Marie Butler, and Donna Roberts
Publisher: Vernon Press

A critical enquiry into what defines nature and the human was at the heart of surrealism from its inception. Much of the experimental practice of surrealism can be seen in terms of a method of creating natura naturans – nature as self-creating - a notion captured by Hans Arp in his famous statement: “Art is a fruit growing out of man like a fruit out of a plant.”[i] Proceeding according to nature required a critical and creative exploration of nature itself: the unexplored continuities between an embodied mind and its environment, of the possibilities of eros, risk, open-ended play, poetry and intoxication. Not only did this entail the recognition of what Roger Caillois called “the nocturnal side of nature[ii]”– enlightened in evolutionary terms by Freud and epitomised as a vital force by de Sade – but it also opened up the question of how historical notions about the tendencies of nature have been invoked to support all manner of fallacies and ideologies, most notably for the surrealists concerning sexual behaviour, utilitarianism, individualism, nationalism, colonialism, political economy, and anthropocentricism. In tune with Breton’s statement in the ‘Prolegomena to a Third Surrealist Manifesto’ (1942) - that mankind should accept that “he is not necessarily the king of creation that he prides himself on being”[iii] - the surrealists undertook a critical revision of the notions of “human essence” and “self”, shattering the monolithic, rationalised, teleological definitions dominating Western culture since antiquity.

Surrealism appears as a peerless philosophical anthropology articulating the visual arts, literature, film, theatre, exhibitions, curating, and performance. Its engagement in the question of human/nature relations and human mismeasurement mark it as historically significant within a cultural discourse on ecology. Moreover, with its insistence upon the interconnective and transformational logic of analogy and lyricism, as vital counters to the logic of identity and fixity, surrealism can be seen to represent a mode of thought that is innately ecological. As Anna Balakian wrote in 1994 in her introduction to Breton’s Arcanum 17 (1944), Breton would be “the darling of the ecologists if they knew about him and read Arcanum 17 in his perception of the intricate relationships that create the cohesion of the universe.”[iv]

The book will be published by the Vernon Press.

We invite proposals for book chapters that relate to the question of surrealism and ecology and that consider any era and geography of surrealism, including contemporary deployments, to such topics as:

·       Eco-feminism
·       Prehistory
·       Indigenous knowledge and (de)colonization
·       Imagination
·       Organicism
·       Flora and fauna
·       Morphology
·       Biology
·       Environments
·       Natural science
·       Natura naturans
·       Nature and economy
·       Evolution
·       Earth as a desert
·       Geologies
·       Ontologies
·       Romanticism and Surrealism
·       Anti-anthropocentrism

How to Submit Your Proposal
Please submit a 200-300 word proposal and a short biographical note to the editors of the volume: Iveta Slavkova (, Anne Marie Butler (, and Donna Roberts ( ).

Important dates
Deadline for proposals: May 15, 2022
Authors informed of selection/rejection: June 1, 2022 
Deadline for full chapter submissions: September 15, 2022



[i] Hans Arp, ‘Notes from a Dada Diary (1932)’ in Robert Motherwell (ed.), The Dada Painters and Poets: An Anthology. Cambridge, MA. and London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1975, p.222.
[ii] Roger Caillois, Art on Trial by Intellect, 1935. In Caillois Approches de l'imaginaire. Paris: Gallimard, 1974, p. 51.
[iii] ‘Prolegomena to a Surrealist Manifesto’, in André Breton Manifestoes of Surrealism, trans. Richard Seaver and Helen R. Lane. Ann Arbor, MI.: The University of Michigan Press, p. 291.
[iv] Anna Balakian, ‘Introduction’ in André Breton, Arcanum 17. Copenhagen and Los Angeles: Green Integer, p. 19.