Scaling Naïveté: Deep Time And The Slow Bourgeoisie

Kaushik Ramu, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation brings a counter-intuitive thesis to the crossing of the Environmental Humanities and postcolonial fiction: that planetary sensibilities obtain in life-worlds that are radically naïve in relation to capitalist modernity. It might initially seem that the axioms against which naïveté defines itself in the readings at the project’s core—such as the need for mastery of the commodity-form, felicity with language, maturation in biographical time, the attainment of social and cultural relevance and world-historical subjecthood—can lend agency and critical worth to novelistic utterances in ways that are urgent and politically meaningful. Yet the reimagining of such axioms, as part of fiction’s world-making, can generate speculative attitudes that open portals to the deep time of a planetary sensibility. The project finds simulations of a tradeoff between planet and capital in Global Anglophone and regional fiction, in which slow, evasive, tangential, failed, and non-dialectical ways of being ecologize the bourgeois sense of time, and pluralize what counts as agency in developmentalist schemes.