ANDA CONFERENCE 2017. Living Together on This Earth: Eco-Sustainable Narratives and Environmental Concerns in English Literature/s
19-21 April 2017, Università di Udine, Sala Gusmani, Palazzo Antonini, Via Petracco 8 – Udine.
The conference aimed at exploring and discussing the place of eco-sustainable narratives in English literature/s and the ways in which they may contribute to our understanding of environmental issues, stimulate positive thinking, create a caring economy, and foster alternative perspectives for the future of our planet.
The eco-degradation of planet Earth is a plague that dramatically and increasingly afflicts the world today. It is at the very centre of contemporary political and intellectual debate, creative writing and environmental concerns, all inextricably intertwined with questions of rights and identity. It can be seen as a fil rouge running across many Anglophone literary texts throughout the centuries. In our belief in the power of the creative word to promote social change by encouraging mutual understanding and respect for the Other and for the environment, the conference presented a wide range of papers on eco-sustainable narratives from all Anglophone areas and historical periods.
A major concern of the conference was to investigate the connections between ecocritical and postcolonial studies. In his key-note lecture, Bill Ashcroft (University of New South Wales, Sydney) discussed what literature can do in an environmental struggle in which colonized peoples are among the worst affected. The role of postcolonial literature, claimed Ashcroft, provides a model for the transformative function of the creative spirit in political resistance.
Among the many highlights of this memorable conference were creative interventions such as the readings by Tsistsistas poet Lance Henson (University of South Africa), American scholar and poet Paul Kane (Vassar College, New York) and word-spoken poetess Natalia Molebatsi. The artist Isabella Pers presented her project Teitiota that lyrically reflects on the consequences of the Anthropocene, starting from the story of Iane Teitiota, the first man who asked asylum for climate change, while Tiziana Pers’s elephant paintings, also on show at the conference, accompanied Molebatsi’s poems. The crescendo of creative engagements with the environment culminated in the immersive experience of Mattia Mantellato’s choreography on Derek Walcott’s Omeros.