Ciputat, 22/05/21 – English Literature Department, Faculty of Adab and Humanities, UIN Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta hold an online seminar with the theme Pandemic Literature. The event was dated May 22, 2021, using the online media platform, Zoom Meeting. This event invited Winda Setiasari, Ph.D., a lecturer from Universitas Negeri Medan, as the first speaker and Hasnul Djohar, Ph.D as the second speaker.

There were more than 60 participants joining the seminar comprising students and lectures. The event was officially opened by the head of English Department, Hasnul Djohar PhD. In her welcoming remark, she emphasized on the idea of Pandemic and the production of literary work during the age of pandemic including in this global COvid 19 pandemics. She mentioned the importance of this seminar for both students and lecturer.

The seminar brings about the topic of Pandemic literature. It blends the material with short writing exercises about pandemic literature.  Seminar and workshop are designed to: 1) provide insight and understanding regarding the key concepts, which is student’s knowledge on how literature serves as a medium to express writers’ feelings toward the condition in the time of pandemic.   2) review and discuss the phenomenon of varieties of class instruction for or practical steps in planning and conducting class activities within the context of teaching pandemic literature, 3) it is proposed to provide some useful resources for lectures.

In her 25 minutes presentation, the first speaker, Winda setia sari focused the speech on Digital Poetry in the Time of Pandemic. Then, Hasnul Insani Djohar, Ph.D., the Head of English Literature Department UIN Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta as the second speaker, she discussed Pandemic Literature found in Albert Camus’s works.   Both speakers share the insightful view, pandemic across time and place marked the battle between human and the catastrophe.

Winda Setiasari, Ph.D. said that the pandemic covid-19 has changed every aspect of human life including literary works. The works now mostly talked about the story of death, fear, and anxiety. She addressed poetry as a means to understand the changes happening due to the pandemic. This works could be traced through digital Media. Through her exploration and investigation of digital poetry during pandemic (one of them created by Emerging British Moslem woman poet, Hafshah Aneela Bashir). She concluded that digital poetry in the time of pandemic was packaged with the various platforms, it shares a great concern for the people, who were subject to self-isolation and quarantine. She added that they resonate with the strong commitment to collectivity than individuality. Most importantly She stated that poems not only serve as a medical treatment for people’s anxieties and worries; it is healing; it acts as an antidote to people’s fear and excessive panic.

Hasnul Insani Djohar Ph.D. started the presentation by showing the audience Video of Albert Camus works concerning pandemic. Camus had created a novel about the virus that spread uncontrollably and destroy half population in the modern town in France, entitled The Plague published in 1947.  Djohar said that how the works were telling us the despair, fear, and anxiety of the plague.

Both speakers received questions from the audience in the Q &A session. This session lasted for 20 minutes. One of the questions is about pandemic in relation to themes written by poets and novelists. Then, one of the lecturers questioned the role of digital platforms in literary criticism. Response from audiences showed that they were actively participated in the seminar mostly on the issue of pandemic in the past and in the present time.

The topics presented by the speakers are highly important. By exploring pandemic literature in the past and present time, it allows lecturer and students to engage with the current issues. Pandemic which has changed human tradition has inspired writers, poets, novelist, filmmaker and other to participate voicing their ideas related to pandemic. This event, then enables us to respond to the works of pandemic literature, particularly as literary scholars and creative writers (IR).