Call for Papers: EarthSpeak

I know this is a little late, but I just got it so am wasting no time in putting it up. Do send in a paper if you can. Papers can be accepted only from students of the Jadavpur University Department of English, but anyone can attend.

Call for Papers


Prof. Debabrata Mukherjee Memorial Annual Students’ Seminar, 2011

Centre of Advanced Study, Department of English

Jadavpur University

18 March, 2011

EarthSpeak: Land, Environment and Text


This seminar seeks to focus on the ways in which we conceptualize the relationship between humans and the environment in all domains of cultural production. Nature has been an enduring concern of literature/orature since the earliest times. From Wordsworth’s The Prelude and Thoreau’s Walden in the nineteenth century, thinking about the environment has acquired urgency in the wake of the Industrial Revolution. From fictional and film utopias/dystopias such as Brave New World or Cameron’s Avatar, activist tracts and wildlife narratives on TV channels, to graphic novels and popular cartoons like Captain Planet, the sheer range of cultural texts engaging with the environment demands closer attention. The growing ecological awareness in the humanities also means that any canonical and non-canonical text can be read/critiqued from an ecological perspective, say, representations of ecology in the writings of Milton, Tagore, or Neruda. Possible topics for 20-minute presentations could include:

  • Pollution: Commercialism and industrialism; dismal images of a poisoned world; the gothicization of squalor and effluence, images of overconsumption
  • Wilds: Sacred places for the reinvigoration of those tired of the moral and material chaos of the city; land-based cultural identity for marginalized people; conservation activities and utopias; gendered landscapes
  • Catastrophe: Genetic experiments gone wrong, projections of the end of the world; apocalyptic/prophetic literature; war and its aftermath (e.g., nuclear winter), campaigns by environmental organizations, hunting/whaling, etc.
  • Non-Human Beings: Ideas of interconnectivity and mutual interdependence among living things, human and nonhumans; projecting animal subjectivities and their inner realities — positioning animals not as objects but as subjects, animal biographies, representations in popular culture (e.g., ads, comics)
  • Intellectual positions: Environmentalism (Rachel Carson, Paul and Anne Ehrlich, Martin Lewis), deep ecology (Gary Snyder and Arne Naess), ecofeminism (Donna Haraway, Greta Gaard, Vandana Shiva), social ecology (Murray Bookchin), ecomarxism (John Bellamy Forster), ecophilosophy (Martin Heidegger), religion and the environment
  • Alternatives: Country and the City — pastoral, eco-tourism and wildlife photography, lifestyle movements — from vegetarianism and ‘planeteering’ to Gandhian philosophy, Tagore’s nature-centred education, the celebration of simplicity, indigenous/tribal resistance to the destruction of the ecology, anti-consumerist writing, etc.

We invite papers which address any of the broad issues within parameters set above, or, indeed, any other related area. Papers must focus on a particular cultural artifact, or a group of them, and should be analytical (rather than descriptive) in approach.

Titles and abstracts of papers should reach the organizers by March 9, 2011 at or


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