Content and purpose : I shall discuss the literary motif of metamorphosis as a reflection of the ecological position of human societies; in particular, I shall deal with a kind of metamorphosis referred to as “sea-change”: the transformation that occurs underwater, or, more generally, by agency of the sea.
I shall refer to examples of literary metamorphosis across different historical contexts, from works by Homer, Ovid and Shakespeare, that will give us some necessary notion of the main antecedents in the treatment of this motif, to the work of the contemporary anglophone writer Derek Walcott (Saint Lucia, Caribbean), whose poetry will be analysed a little more closely.
Before discussing single works and authors, I shall propose some theoretical and historical background notes on the meaning and the development of the metamorphosis and seachange motifs: this exercise reveals consonances sometimes unsuspected between literary periods that are very distant temporarily.
I am posing myself two main purposes.
The first purpose is an ambitious one: to advocate for the Degrowth movement to become interested in promoting ecocritical research on the subject of metamorphosis, both in the form of monographic studies on single authors, on single geographic or thematic areas, and with the scope of panoramic studies, that could aim at drawing a comprehensive picture of the developmnent of the motif of metamorphosis, and of the related ideas of the human position in the biosphere.
The second purpose is possibly even more ambitious: contributing, through the analysis of the literary motif of sea-change, to the better understanding of important aspects of the work of Walcott, one of the greatest poets and playwrights of our time.
Contribution to the 3rd International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Venice in 2012.