Unearthing: The Humanities and the Interconnectedness with the Earth in Recent World Literature

Prof. Jorge Tobias Marcone
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The Humanities are struggling with a basic belief in contemporary culture: humans are cultural beings, but also biological organisms, physical entities, and subjects embedded in ecological relations. In all spheres of life, leaders address problems and challenges in terms of "Life values", implying "human values plus something else that is connected to humans". A crucial task for the Humanities, therefore, is defining the Human beyond the traditional oppositions with the non-Human, or reflecting on the issue as a cultural phenomenon.

Overall, literary and cultural studies have so far disengaged with this discussion. The legacy of postmodernism is mistrust and skepticism regarding the "natural", and the ideological underpinnings of the Natural Sciences, or scientists. Besides, there is still a big gap between realizing that metaphor and narrative are part of the structure of the mind, that there is a chemistry of emotions, and that creative art and texts are "meaning generating machines", on the one hand, and connecting it with the tradition of hermeneutics in these fields, on the other.

interconnectedness of the Human with the Earth, nevertheless, is at the core of any creative cultural tradition. Contemporary world literature has engaged too with this topic as the disillusion with the great utopias of the 20th century carries the collapse of Humanism as we have inherited it since the 16th century. Primary sources for the research project supporting this paper include the following Nobel Laureates: Pablo Neruda, Late and Posthumous Poems (1968-1974). Odysseus Elytis, The Collected Poems (1997). Octavio Paz, The Tree Within (1988). Derek Walcott, Omeros (1990). Kenzaburo Oe, The Silent Cry (1967). Seamus Heaney, Opened Ground (1966-1996). Wislawa Szymborska, View with a Grain of Sand (1995). Gao Xingjian, Soul Mountain (1989). V. S. Naipual, A Way in the World (1994). John Maxwell Coetzee, The Life of Animals (1999).

Keywords: Humanities and Ecology, Human/non-Human, Literary and Cultural Studies, Nobel Prize in Literature
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Prof. Jorge Tobias Marcone

Associate Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese Program in Comparative Literature Center for Environmental Studies (Williams College, 2004-05), Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

Ref: H05P0194