Enrichment Lecture "The Anthropocene in Literature" by Prof. Krishnan Unni P.

The Department of English organized a virtual enrichment lecture for its UG and PG students on April 23, 2020 on “The Anthropocene in Literature". The speaker was Prof. Krishnan Unni P. from the University of Delhi, who began his talk by introducing the concept of the ‘Anthropocene’. He also traced the various geological stages that preceded the Anthropocene and emphasized how ‘remoteness’ is essential to understanding the concept as it requires one to go back to the source.

Prof. Krishnan went on to explicate how, along with other scientists, the Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen, who coined the term, argued that human-induced changes in the earth system were of such deep impact and long duration that one could speak of a new epoch in Earth’s history. He exemplified his ideas by citing instances of multiple literary works such as Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable and Dipesh Chakrabarty’s The Climate of History: Four Theses, among others, all of which raise fundamental questions about how we think historically in an era when human and geological timescales are colliding.

Prof. Krishnan also observed how tribal concerns are an important part of Anthropocene Literature as they act as preservers of the minor creatures and nature in general. The Anthropocene, he added, reorients our understanding of history and thus shifts the way we think about literary history as well, such that - on some level - literary works become potential records of human interaction with the planet, whether through energy systems, or geological events. The session ended with a round of Q & A.