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GREENING THE WORLD: LITERATURE THROUGH ECO-CRITICISM SEMINAR ON SUNDAY, 19TH AUGUST, 2012 VENUE: WEST BENGAL STATE

UNIVERSITY, BARASAT. There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings. The town lay in the midst of a checkerboard of prosperous farms, with fields of grain and hillsides of orchards where, in spring, white clouds of bloom drifted above the green fields. In autumn, oak and maple and birch set up a blaze of color that flamed and flickered across a backdrop of pines. . Then a strange blight crept over the area and everything began to change. Some evil spell had settled on the community . There was a strange stillness. The birds, for examplewhere had they gone? Thus began Rachel Carsons path-breaking book Silent Spring (1962). The book brought to the attention of the world the immensely destructive consequences of human intervention in Nature. Humanitys relentless march towards progress using science and technology had colonised Nature, treating it as a contested space of power struggle. The time-honoured traditions of prudence of the primitive communities or some modern marginal communities with their deep respect for the integrity of creation has been swept aside as nave and antiquated. With humanitys sophisticated movement towards gains, and further gains, human civilization appears to have amassed an impressive degree of privileges. However, to extend to the realm of ecocriticism Spivaks concept of privilege as a loss, we may argue that these momentous privileges have also meant momentous losses.

The literature of eco-criticism is marked by this perspective: of refusing to view as gains the privileges achieved through a senseless use of nature. As Professor Gary Kroll commented of Silent Spring, the book began a critique that articulated ecology as a 'subversive subject' as a perspective that cuts against the grain of materialism, scientism, and the technologically engineered control of nature. This is because the first principle of eco-criticism is appreciating, as Barry Commoner says, that in our ecology everything is connected to everything else.

This being a relatively new area of scholarship in India, the seminar will seek to introduce the concept of eco-criticism and to address issues related to its use in literature. While it may be possible to evaluate any text from an eco-critical perspective, eco-criticism is not a simplistic affair. Economic and developmental agenda associated with peoples livelihood often confront the eco-critical scholar, challenging his/her understanding of the situation. The tools of analyses one uses in this project therefore need to be recognised and understood in order to render the critique meaningful. The seminar hopes to address these issues and give a satisfactory idea of the practice of eco-criticism to the participants.

Programme:

11.00: Welcome Address 11.20: Inauguration of Seminar by the Honourable Vice-Chancellor, WBSU 11.30: Vice-Chancellors address 12.00: Keynote by Professor Scott Slovic, University of Idaho, USA: Toward Consilient Eco-criticism: Science, Literary Criticism, and the Quest for Meaningful Interdisciplinarity 1.00: Lunch break 1.45p.m.:: Dr. Sharmistha Chatterjee Srivasta, Aliah University, India. 2.15 p.m.: Dr. Sumita Banerjee, Loreto College, India. 2.45 p.m.: Film Screening: On the indigenous food culture of Jharkhand, Johar: Welcome to our World,
Followed by an open discussion with Director Nilanjan Bhattacharya

4.00 p.m. Vote of Thanks Certificates of participation will be available on registration.

1. Key note: Professor Scott Slovic, University of Idaho, USA Abstract: Back in 1959, C.P. Snow famously named the gap between the two cultures of science and literature, and weve been trying ever since to bridge that gap, developing research projects, classes, and sometimes entire academic programs that emphasize cross-disciplinary, multidisciplinary, and interdisciplinary approaches. The field of ecocriticism (or ecological literary criticism)which emerged on the international scene in the early 1990s and has, two decades later, become an important mainstream branch of literary, cultural, and environmental studieshas long foregrounded the importance of interdisciplinary thinking in its approach to textual and environmental problem-solving. This lecture will offer a brief introduction to the field of ecocriticism and then focus on several recent examples of interdisciplinarity in ecocriticism (projects that merge environmental literary studies with such fields as ecology, anthropology, and psychology). The consilience between science and the arts that Edward O. Wilson eloquently called for in his 1998 rejoinder to C.P. Snow now seems to be occurring in the field of ecocriticism.

Short Bio-note: Scott Slovic, who recently became Professor of literature and environment at the University of Idaho in the United States, taught for seventeen years at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he helped to create a well-known M.A. and Ph.D. program in literature and environment. Professor Slovic is one of the central scholars in the field of ecocriticisman environmental approach to literary scholarship. From 1992 to 1995, he served as the founding president of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE), which now has branches in more than ten countries around the world. Since 1995, he has edited ISLE:

Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, the major journal in the field. His twenty books include such works as Seeking Awareness in American Nature Writing (1992), Whats Nature Worth? (2004), Going Away to Think: Engagement, Retreat, and Ecocritical Responsibility (2008), and the textbook Literature and the Environment (1999/second edition 2012). He has also published more than 200 articles on ecocritical theory and environmental literature from many countries. 2. Anandavana: The significance of the forest in Bankimchandras green novels Dr Sumita Banerjee, Associate Professor, Loreto College, Kolkata. Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay has been regarded as the father of the great Indian novel. My reading of two of his major works, Kapalkundala and Anandamath, suggests that the novelist was definitely dealing with the trope of the forest in a most original manner. He becomes, in his use of the forests of the night, those green mansions of ascetic delight, the creator of the Anandavana or the Forest of Bliss. His novels in their use of the forest and the night sky, the descriptions of flowing water and curling waves, are perhaps the first green novels in Bengali literature. For the heroines of these two novels, Kapalkundala and Shanti, happiness means wandering in the woods all alone; they are cast in the same green mould as that of Sakuntala and Miranda, who have been much admired by the novelist because both are brought up in the forests. The nature / society conflict that confronted and disturbed Bankimchandra in Kapalkundala is also evident in the additional passages added on Shantis early life in Anandamath. The forest in these novels is a sacred grove. The deserving outsider gets lost in this wildwood, only to be rescued by the ascetic and led into the Anandamath or the Abbey of Bliss in Bankimchandras later novel or into the temple in Kapalkundala where the priest worships with the gentle green of bael leaves. In these novels there is an inherent contrast between what Romila Thapar in her perception of early Indian forests calls the relationship between the forest and the settlement (the vana and the ksetra). The forest in Bankimchandras Anandamath is the antithesis of the famine outside and drought within; this is not the space of the worldly householder, but the sacred place of the sanyasi-soldier, the ascetic, the healer. Shanti and Kapalkundala are not happy in their post-marriage households because happiness for them does not lie in acquiring jewelry or in domestic rituals but in the explorations of the green mansions of their forests. In Bankimchandras novels the forests are not only the tapabhumi of the renouncer but also the green verges of initiation. The jaded and the unhappy find solace here and the dead and the mortally wounded treated with green plants and brought back to life. Kapalkundalas words to Nabakumar at the beginning of the novel, thus contain the very quintessence of Bankims fascination with forests: Have you lost your way, traveller? When he did not answer Kapalkundala declared, Come with me and led him into the forest. We also see Shanti running after flaunting peacocks and the fleeting deer. We find Kapalkundala the gracious goddess of the dark forests at twilight. For those of us who enter their green domain, there never will be any peace outside it.

Rishi Bankims Vande Mataram has acquired a cult status in India to become our first national song. Considered as the great mantra of nationalism, this song has a celebrated, though controversial, past. My green reading of this hymn reveals that it is addressed to an earth mother rich with streams and green with bountiful harvest. Though compared to the warrior goddess Durga and the goddess of art Saraswati, the mother deity that emerges at the end is the Supreme Vasundhara the earth mother, all supporting ever bounteous (Dharanim, Dharanim Mataram). The song becomes a prayer for elemental and environmental balance, richly watered and richly fruited. Against the backdrop of the terrible famine in Anandamath, the song Vande Mataram acquires a significant ecocritical importance. The villages before and after the famine and the advance of the jungle in a land deserted and desolate because of the huge loss in rural population during the famine are also important issues in these novels. If growing national consciousness emerges in Bankims Anandamath, the foundation of the green mansion of the deity is ideally laid deep within the forest. In our own realization of our roots lies our happiness, let us return to Anandavana as the supporting pillars of our nation and culture. 3. Towards the Post-Pastoral: Eco-poetry of Present times. Dr Sharmistha Chatterjee Sivastava, Associate Professor, Aliah University. A postcolonial environment demands its literature to handle Nature in a manner which would echo the exploitation and aridity associated with it. As such nature and politics go wedded to each other, the former reflecting the violence of the latter in the contemporary writings. Poetry of North-East India and Australia reflect the devastation and displacement of human life lived erstwhile in deep communion with Nature. Here nature is not the bliss of champak flowers and the dian skies, but haunting Madhavi fragrance, acrid with the smell of gunpowder ,or gum tree in the city street with hard bitumen round (its) feet. The paper attempts to capture and explain this changing relationship of Nature and poetry and find appropriate terms which would reflect the neo-pastoral tradition restarted differently . 4. Film: Johar: `Welcome to Our World National Film Award 2010 , Best Narration-Script Supported by: ACTIONAID INDIA 58 MINS. For many people in India the word `food means little other than what you eat to survive. A large section of these poorest of the poor are tribals. Joha Welcome to Our World focuses on Jharkhand in eastern India, the home for thirty-two tribal communities. These tribals, or adivasis, have an old and dynamic dependence on their local forests from where they get a significant portion of their core nutrition and medicinal material. They have been engaged in a symbiotic relationship with the forests that deeply influences their social, religious and cultural expressions. Johar: `Welcome to Our World, explores the intricate relationship the tribals of Jharkhand have with their forests. The film explores traditional recipes, the medicinal qualities of various herbs, weeds and fruits and the traditional knowledge of their sustainable management by the adivasis. The film also talks about how mindless, aggressive development and the government's wrong-headed conservation policies have damaged

the tribals relationship with their land and pushed them ever deeper into food insecurity. The film is an attempt to draw attention towards an overlooked but rich and environmentally sustainable food culture that is hugely significanct for a country like India. WRITTEN DIRECTED AND PRODUCED BY NILANJAN BHATTACHARYA PHOTOGRAPHED BY RANU GHOSH SOUND MIXING BY PARTHA BARMAN ENGLISH SUBTITLED 2010 nilanjanbhatta@yahoo.co.in EDITED BY INDRAJIT DAS VOICE BY Q