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Asle- India


ASLE – India was born on 15th January, 2005 the first day of the tamil new year. It is significant that this day marks the harvest festival. It is the day when the land replenishes the household it nourishes and sustains. ASLE stands for as sympathetic and compassionate understanding of the human and the natural world .it is envisaged as a forum for the study of literature and the environment.

There are two significant complementary concepts that occur in the tamil sangham poetics- akam and puram. akam corresponds to interior/ inner aspect, and puram is its complement or counterpart, akam can also be seen as the household affirming the kinship among humans, nature and culture, while puram can also stand for the non-human, exterior world that humans engage with, the two are of course, inextricably linked. This affirmation has been given expression to and represented in various ways in art, literature and culture especially in this part of the world, from very early times.

ASLE—India intends to provide a platform for its members to explore the literary/ artistic representations of the interior household in which both humans and non-human beings have their being, as well as of the exterior world out there which unites with it, striking a complementary relationship. Today this area of exploration, well known as ecological-criticism, draws the scholarly attention of researches, intellectual’s professionals and academics alike. This forum will be the site of such explorations, particularly relevant to the Indian context. The sangham to Tinai can also help us as a conceptual tool in our aesthetic exploration of the various modes of human-nature relationship- hence we have chosen this name for the newsletter of ASLE India. Conferences. Workshops and other appropriate academic activities will be the special convergent points for our members to share expertise in the area and learn from each other. This newsletter is but just a beginning. So much remains for us to explore and understand together.




A short short story by Chandrika*

When the wife of the mighty industrialist of the city died, the owners of all the shops in the city decided to close down their shops for three days as a token of mourning. Of course there were some people who talked in hush-hush that it was the industrialist’s
Political as well as pecuniary influence that made the shop- owners takes such a drastic step. Wives of industrialists have died earlier too: no shop-owner had mourned them for three days. Some people even complained that this decision was autocratically taken by one or two shop – owners who wanted to please the industrialist. One among them even joked that it would have been only one day’s mourning had it been the industrialist who had died!
Though several people talked like this, all of them promptly attended the funeral. They hung around the industrialist’s house in the following days too to render any help needed. The only son of the industrialist, brought down from Love-dale, Ootty performed the obsequies from the nest day onwards as the people on with shows of grief outdoing even the oscar Award winners.

The Love-dale boy rolled the rice into shapeless balls, placed them on a plantain leaf and invited the mother’s soul to come and feast. He clapped his hands as sign of invitation and stepped back, waiting for the soul that would comes as a crow and accept the offering.

But no crow turned up!
The priest said- “The Lady’s soul is not pleased “
The industrialist muttered to himself. “When was she ever pleased? Always a nuisance! “
The priest instructed the boy to clap again. All eyes roamed around the empty sky and the
Garden- plants and came back.
Time slowly slipped by.
“Can we buy crows? “Someone asked.
“No, “he was answered. “We can buy parrots peacocks, mynahs, love birds etc, but not crows don’t think any one ever thought of buying crowns.”
“But in future we may have to make some arrangement like that”. Said a minor industrialist”
Crows are getting rare- now-a – days.”
“May be because we don’t leave them even a branch to sit on. “Some one observed.
“Hey, why don’t we start a project for that? “, a sharp-witted trader reflected aloud.” We will rear crows to be supplied at obsequies. We can make good profit.”

“But they may fly off after eating the rice. Where would the project be then?”

“Train them on opium; they have to come back them.”

People became restless as time went by with no sign of any crow. The Love-dale boy, clad in wet towel sneezed twice.  the industrialist got worried.” He had got chest infection earlier. Let’s leave the rice here and go inside. Let the crow come and eat the rice if it wants! “
 He walked in, holding the son to him, followed by the crowd. The lifted the extinguished lamp and went to the back entrance of the house.

The security guard sat down in his kiosk with relief and lighted a beedi

“Saaar! “
He turned around sharply and saw that it was a girl standing outside the closed bars of the gate. She was clad only in a short and shabby skirt, revealing her rib-ridden chest, both the skirt and the body full of dirt. He tried to frighten her by rolling his eyes, and asked in a rough voice “Hmm? What do you want?”


“Saaar. There are no crows here. “
“That rice –may I take that rice, saaar ? I am so hungry.”

The guard looked at her, wondering whether dead souls would come as hungry girls too

(* Translated from the Malayalam by the author Dr.Chandrlka is better known as chandramathi in literary circles)

Note: Reader’s responses to this story are welcome.

ASLE India ANNOUNCES A Short story Competition for college/University students: Theme of the story: Green VOICES.  The Story should not exceed 500 words. Mail to Suresh at Tagore Arts college pondicherry India     along  with    certificate     from principal / Head  of the Dept. before 1st December 2005. Selected entries will be Published in forthcoming newsletters.


Some Responses to ASLE – INDIA
Dear Dr. Murali,


Congratulations on launching Tinai! I very much like your letter of introduction and I am fascinated by the india concepts that helps us to think about people in place. The newsletter will be a valuable way for members to communicate and share ideas and events it is so much better to pursue one’s work as a member of a scholarly community than on one’s own.
Thank you for sharing this great step forward with me I hope you will keep me on the subscription email list. Best wishes from

Nevada, Cheryll Glotfelty. (USA)

Congratulations on launching the premier issue of the ASLE- India Newsletter! it shows that the organization has been growing and it is my honor to be feel your  excitement. Because I was out of town for several weeks, my sincere apologies for the lateness to reply. As an assistant editor for the ASLE – Japan Newsletter. I will promise to announce this exciting news on our coming issue. As you planned it will be very helpful for readers like us to know what kinds of activities have taken place. I will look forward to subscribing to your newsletter to known more about India. Please keep me updated on it.
Thank you and congratulations again
Shin Yamashiro
University of the Ryukyus JAPAN

Thanks so much for sending your first newsletter, if felt very honored to receive and to
be aquamted with you and nirmal – all thanks to that wonderful conference in Taiwan ! I’m forwarding the first newsletter from our newly formed asle branch, I dream of an Asia –pacific asle network that would see us all getting together from time to time, cheers and good wishes, Debbie.
Dr Deborah Rose. Australia

ASLE- India and its newsletter both appear to be off to a very promising start, indeed. I am a little unclear, though, about the concept of “tinai.” Which gives your newsletter it name? the concept is mentioned in the text but not explained. But then, perhaps Indian readers do not need it to be explained? Please forgive my ignorance.
The format certainly looks attractive, and the photograph is beautiful!

Allison Wallace (USA)
Thank you dear murali for the newsletter, well produced, congrats! Best to you and
usha ! –sachi Dr. Sachidananda Mohanty professor. Department of English University of

Dear Dr .Murali
Thanks for sending your mail regarding ASLE- I am glad you have started this much needed effort. I am sure you must have heard that my recent play (written by Inquilab and directed by me ) is Kurinji pattu exactly the same effort.
Hope things will move.

Dear Dr. Murali,
Thank you for sending me the newsletter. I hope we will further our interaction within the Asian circle in the future. Let us keep in contact with each other.
Tsutomu Takahashi Kyushu University, Japan.

Dear Dr. Murali,
Congratulations on your new venture, and the attractive and competent production with which you are launching it. It seems to me that its recipients /members will very much look forward to each issue if they follow the promise of this one .Dr Annie Greet. Australia.

A promising beginning. Good luck
Malashri Lal
University of Delhi, Delhi

President                      Dr S. Murali
General Secretary         Dr. Rajesh Kumar
Joint Secretaries           Dr Usha V T
                                    Dr.Binod Mishra
                                    Mr. Maitreya

Members of the Executive Committee:
Ms Annie Josphine
           Ms Dhishna
          Ms Srikumar
                Ms Asha
             Ms Sankar


Membership of the ASLE India is open for everyone – environmentalists, creative writers and artists, critics and theorists, and especially for those who care for nature Annual Membership Fee: Rs 500 / - student Membership Rs 150/ - All members will receive copies of the Newsletter and details of activities. Send money as DD payable at pondicherry India. For more details contact Mr. Suresh Dept. of English Tagore Arts College, pondicherry, India.


A Brief Report on the National Seminar on Ecocriticism and Literature held by Department of English, Vinoba Bhave University, Hazaribag, Jharkhand.


The Department of English, vinoba  Bhave university, Hazaribag, Jharkhand .organised a National seminar on Ecocriticism and Literature on September 12 2005, in which a large number of teachers and research scholars from different universities of India participated to examine the bonds between man, nature and literature to evaluate and  redefine the anthropocentric concerns of the ecological question. The first of its kind to be held in any university in Eastern India, The seminar opened with the keynote address delivered by Dr.S. Murali Dept. of English, pondicherry university, emphasizing the need for immediacy of experience to foreground the critical sensibilities of students and teachers by real-time  interaction with ecological concerns and contours beyond the classroom .He also added that ecocritics are rediscovering early writers ,rereading the classics from a green  perspective and beginning to frame their subject in a theoretical way .Dr.Y. Prasad. President of the seminar, spoke about the roots of the ecocritical tenet in Indian scriptures while Dr.R.Kumar .Chief convener and Head of Department of English, V.B.U., analysed  nature constructs in traditional songs of the oraon tribe the forest people inhabiting the western parts of Jharkhand Dr.S.B. Shukla, former Head Department of English Allahabad university, and president . WASLE , also addressed the plenary session in his speech on the ecocritical sensibilities in contemporary Indian literature The seminar was inaugurated by the Vice-Chancellor, V.B.U. ., Dr. Bahura Ekka, a member of the Oraon tribe.Dr. Ekka brought out the environmental nuances of aboriginal literature and expressed his conviction for recording the unconfigured oneness of man and nature in tribal oral literature.

The one day seminar also saw teachers from science and social sciences presenting their papers on wide ranging perspectives of ecocriticism. Dr.P.K.Mishra  a botanist, expressed his opinions on pre-and post-stockholm environmentalism and correlated it with the scientific description of the hydrological cycle as mentioned in the Vedas . DR .Sadique Rajak, a psychology teacher, came up with an interesting content analysis of the tribal perception of ecology .Dr.P.K.David from Gossner college and Dr.Juthika Banerjee from Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, jointly expounded the value- centredness of the ecocritical texts and put stress on holistic vision as an indispensable tool for cosmic sustenance . The parallel technical sessions in the afternoon were enlivened by an interesting give and take between students, paper readers and environmentalists.A large number of the students of the university wanted to know if ecocriticism had any relevance for them .Dr. Mani.Sinha, also the organizing secretary of the seminar, explained to them that the relevance they were seeking for lay not only in academic exercised but also in the consciousness and understanding of  the ecological problematic in the villages and the towns they came from .Sagar Dan from Burdwan university reinterrogated ecofeminism in a study of Mudrooroo’s Doctor Wooreddy’s while amitav
Ghosh’s the Hungry Tide was dissected methodically by several participants including Bonani Chatterjee from Kashi Vidyapeeth and R.Konar  from Burdwan.N.S nabi’s paper from the university of Bradford was also on the programme but it could  not be read out due of communication delays. The valedictory session concluded with a scholarly discourse on the interactive with a scholarly discourse on the interactive possibilities between chemistry, ecology and literature by Dr.Salil K. Roy, pro-Vice-Chancellor (VBU)

The Association of the study of Literature and Environment
( ASLE , pronounced “AZ-lee”) was founded in October 1992 to  promoted the exchange of ideas and information bout literature and other cultural representations that consider human relationships with the natural world. The name of the organization is meant to be as inclusive as possible, encompassing any text that illuminates the ways humans perceive and interact with the nonhuman environment.

An active and energetic community ASLE encourages and seeks to facilitate both traditional and innovation scholarly approaches to environmental literature, ecocritical approaches to all cultural representations of nature and interdisciplinary environmental research, including discussions among literary scholars and environmental historians, economists, journalists, philosophers psychologists, art historians, scientists , and sholars in other relevant disciplines.

 In addition to encouraging new nature writing. We foster contact between scholars and environmentally engaged artists, including writers, photographers, painters, musicians and film makers, we also promote the incorporation of environmental concerns and awareness into pedagogical theory and practice



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