Call for Papers: Flora - Fauna - Gender (guest editors: Burak Sezer and Johanna Pelikan)


CfP gender forum (2025)


Special Issue: Flora – Fauna – Gender

guest editors: Burak Sezer (Dortmund) and Johanna Pelikan (Hamburg)


When Henry David Thoreau watches ants on a wood-pile, he sees war, a “bellum” (155); when Emily Dickinson watches the buzzing of bees around clovers, she sees a love scene in a “prairie” (710). Approximately a hundred years later, Daphne du Maurier spots similarities between the “unnatural, queer” attacks of coastal birds and “air-raids in the war” (9-10), while J. A. Baker stresses the “extraordinary beauty” (32) and “merci[fulness]” (40) of the predatory peregrine falcon. These juxtapositions set the stage for this special issue by laying bare a saliently gendered undercurrent in epistemologies and ontologies of flora and fauna in anglophone literature.


This eros/thanatos divide runs across many other related phenomena and cultural practices revolving around flora and fauna. It can, for example, be discerned when comparing Western agricultural practices to indigenous methodologies of land stewardship. While the former is associated with penetration and domination, especially in their colonial and industrial forms (Morton 2016), the latter bespeaks an ethics of care and kinship toward the “other-than-human neighbors” (Justice 38). It is, again, noticeable that in Western discourses, these two sides are gendered: While the former is coded masculine (animal husbandry), the latter is feminine (plant nursery). Indeed, the violent attitude toward animals and plants is strongly connoted with virility, as Carol J. Adams argues in The Sexual Politics of Meat (1990), which has been met with sharp criticism on the grounds of ecological and ethical considerations more recently. This contrast is deliberately provocative, as it remains to be researched how discourses in gender and queer studies affirm, question, challenge, and/or destabilize this conceptual divide.


Beyond these gendered practices, there is a cornucopia of cultural icons and mythological creatures that link gender with flora and fauna. Between cultural productions revolving around the ‘Wolf Man’ and indigenous mythologies of the ‘Deer Woman,’ hermaphroditic animals and plants challenge clear-cut sex attributions and invoke hybridities and androgynies instead. Often, gender associations are predicated on modalities of perception as well: while the overground form of trees has frequently been called arborescent and phallic (Deleuze/Guattari 1990), their underground rootwork gives a counterimage of excess and complexity, a “fluid” that precludes neat categorization (Irigaray 1985), perhaps even a floral écriture feminine (Cixous 1976) as showcased in the woman-plant metamorphosis in Han Kang’s The Vegetarian (2016).


Against this background, we invite scholars of all academic stages to investigate how and to what extent gender plays a role in depictions of flora and fauna in anglophone media, comprising literature, film, video games, and comics. Possible topics may include, but are in no way restricted to:


  • gender and agriculture, farming, plantation settings, also in intersection with race;
  • gendered images of flora and/or fauna;
  • gender and food: productions and consumptions;
  • animal and plant sexualities, hybridities and hermaphrodites;
  • gender, flora and fauna against the backdrop of historical eras (Enlightenment, Romanticism, etc.), or historical epochs (slavery/antebellum, industrialization, etc.)
  • animal and/or plant-hybridity, transformations/shape-shifting, tricksters, mythologies
  • genre-specific perspectives (fantasy, memoir/autobiography, science/speculative fiction, etc.) on plants and animals 
  • gendered living with animals and plants (companionship, coexistence) 
  • gender and wildness/wilderness, domestication, cultivation 
  • gender and hunting/harvesting 
  • zoophilia and zoophobia; botanophilia and botanophobia


Please submit an abstract of 300 words and a short bio of 150 words to and by July 21, 2024. Confirmations of acceptance will be sent out by July 31, 2024. Full papers (6,000-8,000 words) are due by October 31, 2024 and will then be submitted to double blind peer review.


Works Cited

Baker, J. A. The Peregrine. Dublin: William Collins, 2017.

Cixous, Hélène. “The Laugh of the Medusa” in Journal of Women and Culture 4(1). Transl. Keith Cohen and Paula Cohan, 1976, pp. 875-893.

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus. New York: Bloomsbury, 2010.

Dickinson, Emily. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. Thomas H. Johnson. New York: Hachette, 1976.

Irigaray, Luce. Speculum of the Other Woman. Transl. Gillian Gill. New York: Cornell University Press. 1985.

Justice, Daniel Heath. Why Indigenous Literatures Matter. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2018.

Maurier, Daphne du. “The Birds” in The Birds and Other Stories. London: Virago Press, 2015.

Morton, Timothy. Dark Ecology. For a Logic of Coexistence. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016.

Thoreau, Henry David. “Walden; or, Life in the Woods” in Walden, Civil Disobedience, and Other Writings, ed. William Rossi. Princeton: PUP, 2008.