Call for submissions CFPs Postgraduate

CFP: Austerity Gardens, edited collection

The call for papers is now live for Austerity Gardens, an essay collection to be edited by Dr Naomi Milthorpe.

About the collection:

The editor seeks 500-word proposals for submission to an edited collection devoted to the politics and poetics of austerity gardening in literary and material cultures in the Anglophone world from the Second World War onwards.

Austerity gardening encompasses a diversity of places, spaces, practices, and actors: from suburban allotments to country house gardens, Victory diggers to urban foragers. Gardens are liminal spaces, private zones, and contested sites, mobilized against foreign invaders whether human or nonhuman. Gardens and gardening are gendered, and in place and practice revelatory of shifting, contingent, and multiple modes of gender and sexual identity. They are idealized, yet ever-incomplete, utopian sites. Gardening is also big business, with global market reports indicating increased demand for DIY products worldwide in the decade since the global financial crisis. Thus gardening and garden literature proffers rich soil for understanding the commodifications and uses of culture, whether highbrow or popular, in the mid-to-late 20th century and beyond.

Following the global financial crisis, there has been a parallel burgeoning scholarly interest in austerity. As Rebecca Brammall suggests, the discourses of austerity articulate a range of ideological, cultural, economic and social agendas. Most significant, however, is the way in which the agendas of austerity – many of them expressed in terms of utopian/dystopian anxieties about the self and society – are mapped upon representations of wild and human landscapes. Responses to austerity develop from a relationship with the environment; these responses in turn renovate the ways in which these spaces and places are imagined in literature and the arts from the Second World War onwards.

Landscape is material, but it is also as Denis Cosgrove argues a “cultural concept” and “way of seeing”. Nowhere is this more apropos than the garden, a pre-eminently human landscape in which desire and identity is embedded, nurtured and reflected. The garden is a site of nature and culture, an art which in the words of The Winter’s Tale“itself is nature.” Though the country house and pastoral traditions represent the garden as an unchanging, aristocratic, leisurely “green and pleasant land”, austerity seeks to reimagine the backyard as a dynamic, democratic space of self-sacrifice and toil.

From these roots sprout a range of interdisciplinary topics and questions related to austerity gardening. From the “Dig for Victory” campaign to contemporary cultures of ethical consumption, green living and gardening as entertainment, this collection invites proposals for readings of literature, film, visual arts, crafts, media, and cultural history, in order to explore the ways in which gardening is mobilised to contest and celebrate discourses of austerity, ethics, and responsibility in the Anglophone world from the Second World War to the present day. Chapters are invited on topics including, but not limited to:

  • Representations of austerity gardens in literature, film, visual arts and crafts
  • Gardening memoirs and personal narratives of committing to sustainability
  • Austerity gardens in popular media (television, magazine culture, blogs)
  • Theatrical performance in/and austerity gardening
  • Public or private austerity gardens and their relation to nationalist politics – allotments, national trust houses, community gardens
  • Identity politics and/ in the garden, including gendered and classed practices of both gardening and austerity
  • Gardens in/as war zones
  • The non/human in the austerity garden
  • Ethical consumption
  • The pastiching of WW2 and 1950s austerity garden practices in contemporary cultural products
  • Interdisciplinary approaches to reading austerity gardens and landscapes
  • Austerity gardens and post-human futures

For queries or to submit a proposal, please contact the editor at