De tweede keynote van ons Digitale Jaarcongres Meer dan Menselijk Verleden: Historici, Eco-geschiedenis en Environmental Humanities op donderdag 19 november wordt verzorgd door dr. Katie Ritson. Ritson werkt aan het Rachel Carson Center for Environment & Society, dat verbonden is aan de Ludwig Maximilians-Universiteit te München. Aan die universiteit studeerde ze ook, evenals aan de Universiteit van Cambridge. Verder is Ritson auteur van The Shifting Sands of the North Sea Lowlands: Literary and Historical Imaginaries (2019). Zoals het gehele ochtendprogramma is ook haar keynote in het Engels.
Literary texts are a constitutive part of the way we think about landscapes, and in our troubled times, understanding our relationship to place is of great importance. In The Great Derangement (2016), Amitav Ghosh asserts that climate change ‘is also a crisis of culture, and thus of the imagination’. He argues that the realist novel has been an important vehicle in reproducing and reinforcing the modern separation between culture and nature, and between natural history and human history. In attempting to address climate change in his fiction, Ghosh turns to the watery landscape of the Sundarbans in the Bay of Bengal and to the sinking city of Venice. In these places he finds the possibility of new stories for our time. In this talk, Ritson will engage Ghosh’s arguments and bring them into conversation with the literary imagination of North European lowlands, in particular the Netherlands, exploring the significance of our sinking shores for how we think about both the history and the future of our planet.