Gaia’s Progenies: Ecocritical Engagement in Select Indian Children’s Fiction
Call For Papers
Gaia’s Progenies: Ecocritical Engagement in Select Indian Children’s Fiction
In the span of the last two hundred years ago or so, children’s fiction in Indian literature has come to occupy a noteworthy place. For its unparalleled mass acceptance, fiction in regional languages have been and are translated into foreign languages to make these entertaining fictions accessible to all readers of the world. Children’s fiction stimulates budding minds with the means of catering entertaining elements, often, interwoven with didacticism. In general, some scattered research has been done on the ecocritical exploration of Indian children’s literature, but a full-length representative book is still awaited, that addresses the dynamics of cross-cultural concerns involving a pan-subcontinental representation of the same. Hence, this proposed edited volume would certainly be a pioneer of to critique the ecocritical ethos in Indian children’s literature. Kindly find the concept note of the proposed volume and do let me know without any hesitation if any incorporation is sought essential to make it a critically more viable volume.
The current climate catastrophe caused by anthropogenic global heating is a pressing threat to all living organisms on this planet, and consequently, the imperative paradigm shift, from anthropocentric to biocentric, in approach towards nature which is advocated by the deep ecologists, must be earnestly practised in general and inculcated in children, the future citizens of this planet, to shield this world, if possible, from the seemingly certain annihilation. The studies (Kellert 2005; Clayton and Mayers 2009) vividly indicate that children intrinsically develop a special affinity with nature and this profound bond helps them douse their unquenchable thirst for the world replete with baffling elements. In this regard, the role of children’s literature is unsurpassed. In fact, character-building through didacticism, making children’s imaginative faculty and sensibilities more dynamic and vigorous, and transport them to the world of euphoria through entertaining stories which are categorized as myth, legend, folklore, etc. are prime objectives of Indian children’s fiction. Apart from these, children’s fiction holds a crucial role in making children cognizant of the significance of the preservation of wilderness and the peaceful coexistence of humans and non-humans.
Having linguistic varieties in this country, children’s literature is produced in various languages such as Bangla, English, Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, etc. and these works attempt to indoctrinate eco-literacy in them. Indian children’s literature gets enriched by the remarkable contributions of Bengali children’s literature. Mention may be made of some eminent literary figures of this fraternity – Rabindranath Tagore, Sukumar Roy, Dakshinaranjan Mitra Majumdar, Leela Majumdar, Sunirmal Basu, Bibhutibhusan Bandyopadhyay, etc. Rabindranath Tagore, the first Nobel Laureate of Asia, penned Sahaj Path (Easy Reading), a book for learning the Bengali language, where he skilfully incorporated certain elements for evoking children’s interest in nature and making proximity with it. Abol Tabol (The Weird and the Absurd) by Sukumar Roy, one of the greatest creations of children’s literature, does emanate various pertinent ecological issues in amusing language. Another captivating text Thakumar Jhuli (Grandmother’s Bag) by Dakshinaranjan Mitra Majumdar is a milestone not only in Bengali children’s literature but also in the entire fraternity of Indian children’s writings. Even the roles of periodicals are highly significant since most of the remarkable works featured there. In this regard, mention may be made of some popular periodicals – in Bengali language Sakha (Companion), Sandesh, etc.; in Gujarati language Bal Anand, Zagmag, etc.; in Hindi language Vidyarthi (Student), Shishu (Child), Bal Sakha (Child Companion), Nandan (Aesthetics), Chakmak, Parag, etc.
Regarding ecocritical discourse, Cheryll Glotfelty explicates ecocriticism in her magnum opus compendium entitled The Ecocriticism Reader (1996): “Ecocriticism is the study of the relationship between literature and the physical environment. Just as feminist criticism examines language and literature from a gender-conscious perspective, and Marxist criticism brings an awareness of modes of production and economic class to its readings of the texts, ecocriticism takes an earth-centered approach to literary studies (xviii).” To the children, nature appears in the form of only plants and wild animals. Hence, the picture books projecting plants and animals leave a thoughtful impact on them. As per the article entitled The Secret Power of the Children’s Picture Books (2019), published in The Wall Street Journal, the picture books not only escalate the children’s cognitive capabilities but also help them develop their oral language and vocabulary, and thereby preparing them for subsequent cognitive progress. In fact, in various cultures, picture books are used as a teaching-learning tool to cater teachings to children effectively. These books help them assimilate themselves with plants to become eco-citizens. One Night in the Sunderbans by Tannaz Daver and Ratna Moriniaux Rege is one of the glaring examples of this genre. In Children’s literature: An invitation to the world (2003), David Mitchell stated while commenting on “picture storybooks”: in these books “the pictures and the text are tightly intertwined. Neither the pictures nor the words are self-sufficient; they need each other to tell the story” (87). Even the religious scriptures symbolise tree as a boon. For example, we find in Bhagavata Purana, one of the eighteen Puranas of Hinduism, that “the birth of trees is auspicious as it contributes to the well-being of all creatures.” Thoreau in his Walden (1854) depicts the conducive milieu which is constructed in the close proximity of wilderness with human beings. Hence, it would be an essential step to retreat from the current development paradigm and stimulate the young generation for the foundation of an ecologically sustainable society to heal the sufferings of all living beings.
This proposed edited book Gaia’s Progenies: Ecocritical Engagement in Select Indian Children’s Fiction seeks to critique various representative features of children’s fiction of Indian literature from the following ecocritical dimensions, but by no means is limited to them alone –
- Indian Children’s Fiction, Bhasha Sahitya and Prakriti Dharma
- Ecofeminist aspects in Indian Children’s Fiction
- Ecosocialist aspects in Indian Children’s Fiction
- Ecofascist aspects in Indian Children’s Fiction
- Regional Subtleties in Indian Children’s Fiction
- Scriptural continuities and contiguities in Indian Children’s Fiction
- Eco-conscious Indian Children’s Fiction and posthumanist/transhumanist concerns
- Indian Children’s Fiction and subcontinental socio-political engagements
- NEP 2020, eco-literacy and Indian Children’s Fiction
- Indian Children’s Fiction and Generic Experimentations: Picture Books/Audio Books/ Graphic Narratives
- Indian Children’s Fiction and Citizenship Futures
- Indian Children’s Fiction and East-West Interfaces
We solicit original abstracts and bio-notes of contributors (within 100 words each), sketching a blueprint of the proposed paper and how it fits in the volume, both thematically and structurally. We welcome abstract submissions from contributors who have undertaken some bit of serious critical research in terms of critical conjunctions of Indian Writing in English, Indian Literatures in Translation and especially non-Western ecocritical projections. The proposed volume has been solicited by Bloomsbury India, and a rigorous selection procedure will be followed.
- Abstract: 150-300 words (along with 5 key words) and a short bio within 150 words.
Key Details: -
1. Last date of submission of abstracts: 15th November, 2022
2. Confirmation of abstracts acceptance: 30th November, 2022
3. Last date of submission of full papers: 28th February, 2023
4. Email id for submission & query: firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: Bloomsbury Publishing House has shown interest in the concept note.
Short Bio of the Editors: -
Dr. Subhadeep Paul is presently Assistant Professor, Department of English, School of Literature, Language and Cultural Studies, Bankura University, West Bengal. He has previously taught at the P.G. Department of English, Maulana Azad (Govt.) College, Kolkata. He was a co-director of a Two-Year Major Research Project (2016-18) entitled “Discoursing the Homeless Elderly: Tropes, Desires, Containment” (funded by the I.C.S.S.R., in collaboration with The University of Swansea, U.K.). He has co-edited Anxieties, Influences & After: Critical Responses to Postcolonialism & Neocolonialism (Worldview Publishers, in association with Wimbledon Press, UK, 2009) and authored Finite Sketches, Infinite Reaches (Writers Workshop, Kolkata, 2009). His forthcoming co-edited volume Beyond the Hetreonorm: Interrogating Critical Alterities has been endorsed by Lexington Books I Rowman & Littlefield.
Goutam Majhi is currently Assistant Professor at the Department of English, Sadhan Chandra Mahavidyalaya (affiliated to Calcutta University), West Bengal, India and a Doctoral Scholar at the Department of English, Bankura University, West Bengal, India. He has translated a Bangla novel Manthra by Abhijit Choudhury into English. He is the recipient of the National Teaching Excellence Award conferred by International Benevolent Research Foundation in 2017. His forthcoming co-edited volume entitled Beyond the Heteronorm: Interrogating Critical Alterities is endorsed by Lexington Books I Rowman & Littlefield.