Muhammad Syaukat Mustafa Kamal is pursuing a PhD in English Literature at Universiti Putra Malaysia. His areas of interest are Malaysian literature, ecocriticism, affect theory, and narrative empathy. He is currently working at International Islamic University Malaysia, teaching English language proficiency. E-mail: msyaukat@iium.edu.my
Zainor Izat Zainal (PhD) is Senior Lecturer at Universiti Putra Malaysia, where she teaches Malaysian literature in English, creative writing, and miscellaneous other subjects related to world literature. She has published articles and book chapters on Malaysian literature and the environment, Malaysian higher education, and literature pedagogy. She is vice president of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment ASEAN (ASLE/ASEAN). E-mail: zainor@upm.edu.my


Reading Anthropocene Anxiety in Cecil Rajendra’s Poetry

Abstract: Anthropocene anxiety is a form of distress caused by the Anthropocene, when human activities have caused a significant impact on the planet and desensitization to environmental problems. This form of anxiety has been expressed in various literary works which often deal with changes in the environment. Indeed, literary works that emphasize emotion or affect, can help us to comprehend the relationship between the Anthropocene and affective responses such as anxiety. Cecil Rajendra, a renowned Malaysian poet, has written numerous environmental poems charged with various emotions, shedding light on the emotional dimensions of the Anthropocene. This paper will study Anthropocene anxiety as an affect in Cecil Rajendra’s poems from Rags and Ragas: Selected Environmental Poems (2000). Adopting Silvan Tomkins’ “affect theory,” two research questions guide this paper: What types of affects are evoked in the poems? How do these affects convey Anthropocene anxiety? This paper seeks to contribute to a growing understanding of Anthropocene anxiety and affective ecocriticism.
Keywords: Anthropocene, anxiety, Cecil Rajendra, affect theory, affective ecocriticism