Gelanggang Mahasiswa Sastra Inggris (Gemasi), Universitas Padjadjaran organized a discussion event called Gemasi Talks on Wednesday, 30 September 2020. Christian Jil R. Benitez of Ateneo de Manila University will be delivering a talk about the theme of Environment and Literature, whose title is “Tropicality as a Tactic of Touch.”
While the tropical has been primarily understood to refer to that worldly zone by the equator, it is also crucial to note its derivation from trope, as to grasp the tropic to be related to the turns taken in rhetoric. Through this reinterpretation of the tropical, the relation between literature and environment becomes more palpable: nature, as we know it, is perceived to be constructed as well by the turns we take in language. And while this points to the temptation of romanticizing the environment (as often demonstrated in pastoral literature, for example), I argue that as the world adapts to the pandemic through implementing strategies of isolations, the potency of tropicality allows for a tactic of touch, wherein one is permitted to reach other times and spaces in an altered manner, that is, through the event of text itself. In other words, I attempt to articulate the value of literature amid the present global crisis: its proposed possibility of encounter as urgent and visceral, if not outright real.
The discussion was moderated by Ari J. Adipurwawidjana, and hosted by Stasya Yovela and Humaira Diaz.
The event was open to the public. Participants included not only students and alumni of the Unpad English Studies Program but also students and lecturers from no less than 15 universities as well as the general public.