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International Conference
Nature and Human Nature:
Land, Landscape and Cultural Constructions of the Environment

21st -23rd September 2006

in the Department of English Pondicherry University, Pondicherry India

Co-Sponsored by the
and the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment—ASLE , U.S.A

This first International Conference of ASLE India intends to foreground and close-examine the intimate relations and biological ties existing between Literature and the Environment. Indeed, environment as a concept, for obvious reasons, cannot be seen separate or segregated from the cultural and natural spheres. And literature by virtue of being what it is—creative, imaginative, emotive and expressive— could be seen as engaging with the human mind and the natural world. Of course the natural world cannot be disrespectfully dismissed as being part of the simulated reality, as postmodernism would have us believe!  It is very much there, real enough, and we form an intimate and integral part of it. This would form the major concern of the Conference—the living connection between nature and the human being.

Ecological and environmental concerns appear to be self evident in the present. We hear a lot about eco- crisis, eco-logic, eco-tourism and so on. In view of the amazing amount of sophisticated theoretical debates that are going on in academic and scholarly circles these days one could safely venture to state that ecological thinking has come to stay with us. This is definitely the Age of Ecology. This might be certainly not very well equally applicable in all situations, climes and cultures. Nature is no more looked upon as a dauntless adversary to be over come and controlled. The human being’s dominant role as conqueror and overlord of the land and other nonhuman life has been conveniently laid aside. 

However, in spite of the Earth Summits, the innumerable conventions and gatherings, the Kyoto protocol and many such, there yet remains a certain amount of cloud of unknowing when it comes to a self-realization of ecological wisdom and its implications in the living situation. Human beings are certainly an integral part of nature and yet they have evolved to a level of superiority that enables them to manipulate their environment, and that too drastically. The hole in the ozone layer, the  inordinate rise in global warmth, and the unprecedented crisis in mineral, forest produce and oil management and climatic conditions are all indicative of the effect of this deterministic position. Science and its handmaiden technology have contributed to an oversimplified view of this hierarchical status of the human being.  On the other hand cultural-studies have unearthed the manifold and pluralistic universe within, which has complicated matters even further.

What is nature? Is it what is out there or what is within? What is land, and where does region begin and end? What is landscape? How is it constituted? What are its philosophical, ethical and literary/aesthetic implications? These are some among the critical questions which this Conference intends to problematise. Some of the broad areas under which these could be discussed are:

  1. Nature and the natural—interface between the hard sciences and the humanities
  2. Landscape studies
  3. Environmental issues and positions
  4. Social and ethical issues related to land and land use/abuse
  5. Art and literature—the aesthetics of nature and the natural
  6. Eco feminist studies—women and nature
  7. Culture and nature—its representations
  8. Ecology, biodiversity, bio-ethics
  9. Pollution and contamination—over-exploitation of nature
  10. Philosophical positions
This Conference hopes to bring together a diverse group of concerned intellectuals from different disciplines, scholars, academics, environmental activists equally committed to these issues and equally open to each other’s individual, methodological and disciplinary differences and points of view.
Papers are invited from interested participants.  For all enquiries kindly contact the coordinator.

Conference Coordinator:
Dr S Murali, Reader, Dept. of English,
Pondicherry University,
Phones: 0413-2655991-351
(office) 0413-2656101(home)  
email: [email protected]    
Abstracts should reach the coordinator by
JULY 30th 2006.    

Kindly send a hard copy + CD version to E-16, Professor’s Quarters, Pondicherry University,  Pondicherry 605 014 India – suggestions for panels are also welcome



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