Prof. Paul Kei Matsuda

Arizona State University

Incorporating Writing into the Classroom


Writing plays an important role in today’s global society. Yet, writing has been a neglected skill in language learning and teaching, and it is yet to be fully incorporated into the classroom. Although it is important to teach students how to write well, writing also has other values. This talk will address the use of writing in the classroom not only to teach writing but also to facilitate classroom communication, learning, and reflections.

Writing Assessment Literacy for Language Teachers


What is the difference between norm-referenced and criterion-referenced assessment? What about holistic and analytic rubrics? Assessment of Learning and Assessment as Learning? Which one should we use in the classroom? In this workshop, participants will reflect on their own writing assessment literacy and develop an understanding of classroom writing assessment that will help them not only assess what students have learned but also facilitate further development.

PAUL KEI MATSUDA is Professor of English and Director of Second Language Writing at Arizona State University, where he works closely with doctoral students focusing on second language writing from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. He has published widely on issues related to language, writing and identity.

You can find an extended biography at


Prof. Stef Craps
Ghent University

Lost Words and Lost Worlds: Combatting Environmental Generational Amnesia


This lecture will explore the problem of society’s environmental memory loss and the potential for literary and cultural works to counteract it.

I will use the concepts of environmental generational amnesia and shifting baseline syndrome to argue that our connection to the natural world has been eroded by our severely limited experience of it. Environmental generational amnesia is a concept coined by the American psychologist Peter Kahn, which refers to the idea that each generation’s perception of what is “normal” in nature is shaped by their own experience rather than an objective standard. As a result, we forget what we have lost and do not realize the full extent of environmental degradation that has occurred over time. This phenomenon is closely related to the notion of shifting baseline syndrome, introduced by the French-born marine biologist Daniel Pauly, which describes how people’s baseline expectations of the state of the environment are constantly being reset to a lower level as they are born into a world with fewer resources and a more degraded environment than the generation before.

I will examine two case studies to illustrate how creative works can play a vital role in reversing these trends and curing our planetary amnesia. The Lost Words: A Spell Book is a book by the British nature writer Robert Macfarlane and the British illustrator Jackie Morris that seeks to address this problem by celebrating the natural world and the words associated with it that are disappearing from children’s vocabularies. Like its sequel The Lost Spells, the book includes a series of beautiful poems and illustrations that bring attention to plants and animals that are being lost in an effort to reintroduce these words into the lexicon of young readers. What Is Missing? is an interactive digital project by the American artist and architectural designer Maya Lin that aims to raise awareness about the ongoing mass extinction of species and the impacts of climate change. Both Macfarlane and Morris’s books and Lin’s memorial project help counteract environmental generational amnesia and shift the baseline of expectations for what is normal in nature back to a higher level. They offer powerful examples of how art can stimulate environmental awareness, remind us of what we have lost, and inspire us to imagine more sustainable futures.

Mediating Ecological Emotions

This workshop revolves around some of Prof Stef Craps’ recent research on ecological mourning, which looks at the ways in which literature and the arts can help us work through the emotional impact of environmental loss.

STEF CRAPS is Professor of English literature at Ghent University in Belgium, where he directs the Cultural Memory Studies Initiative. His research interests lie in twentieth-century and contemporary literature and culture, memory and trauma studies, postcolonial theory, and ecocriticism and the environmental humanities. He is the author of Postcolonial Witnessing: Trauma Out of Bounds (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and Trauma and Ethics in the Novels of Graham Swift: No Short-Cuts to Salvation (Sussex Academic Press, 2005), a co-author of the New Critical Idiom volume Trauma (Routledge, 2020), and a co-editor of Memory Unbound: Tracing the Dynamics of Memory Studies (Berghahn, 2017). He has also (co-)edited special issues of journals including American Imago, Studies in the Novel, and Criticism on topics such as ecological grief, climate change fiction, and transcultural Holocaust memory. Craps is the founding coordinator of the Mnemonics network, an international collaborative initiative to provide research training in memory studies for doctoral students, and a co-chair of the “Transformation of the Environment” working group of the EU-funded Slow Memory COST Action.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Zalina Mohd Kasim
Universiti Putra Malaysia

Metaphors and COVID-19: The Power of Words in a Time of Crisis


In the face of the COVID-19 crisis, metaphors have emerged as powerful tools, serving as cognitive mechanisms, framing devices, and influential forces in shaping public understanding. This talk explores the multifaceted role of metaphors in the context of the pandemic, highlighting their importance in elucidating crucial issues, framing media discourse, and impacting societal perception.

Metaphors, as cognitive mechanisms, play a vital role in elucidating complex and abstract issues. They facilitate comprehension by bridging the gap between the known and the unknown, enabling individuals to grasp the severity, implications, and nuances of the COVID-19 pandemic. By drawing upon familiar experiences and concepts, metaphors provide a relatable framework that aids in understanding and navigating this crisis.

The media’s use of metaphors in framing issues surrounding COVID-19 is of utmost significance. Through metaphorical framing, media discourse can evoke emotions, direct attention, and influence attitudes. Understanding the importance of metaphors in media communication is crucial to comprehending the impact they have on public understanding and policy responses.

The impact of metaphor usage during the COVID-19 pandemic is twofold. On one hand, metaphors can magnify certain aspects of the crisis, raising awareness and mobilizing action. They can serve as powerful tools to communicate urgency and solidarity. On the other hand, some metaphors can evoke negative emotions and contribute to prejudiced understandings of COVID-19-related concepts. Responsible metaphorical language is essential to ensure that metaphors do not perpetuate stigmatization or prejudice. Acknowledging their importance and impact is crucial in fostering effective and responsible communication strategies during times of crisis. By harnessing the power of words, we can navigate this crisis with empathy, awareness, and informed decision-making.

ZALINA MOHD KASIM is Associate Professor at the Department of English, Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia. With expertise in cognitive linguistics and stylistics, Dr Zalina will be sharing her insights on linguistics research with MICOLLAC participants.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Hardev Kaur
Universiti Putra Malaysia

Xenophobia: Can We Combat It?


Xenophobia is increasingly recognized as a serious and worldwide social phenomenon. It is considered as one of the challenging concerns that threaten the social fabric globally. This study focuses on xenophobic representations which are highlighted in selected contemporary South African novels. The selected literary texts reflect xenophobia as one of the social concerns that refute the notion of Rainbow Nation that Mandela promised his people to achieve in post-apartheid South Africa. The study argues that the pervasiveness of xenophobic violence in post-apartheid is a result of citizenship attitudes, xenophobic state politics, and the incomplete decolonization from apartheid legacy. This study examines the xenophobic violence against black foreigners as reflected in works of fiction through the portrayals of African protagonists living in South Africa. The novels utilised are: Welcome to Our Hillbrow (2001) by Phaswane Mpe and Evening Primrose (2017) by Kopano Matlwa.

The three Postcolonial concepts of Michael Neocosmos’ citizenship and Frantz Fanon’s decolonization and subjectivity are applied as a conceptual framework to investigate the motives behind xenophobic violence against black foreign characters in the aforementioned texts as the selected data for this study. The findings reveal that the appearance of xenophobia in post-apartheid is a result of state politics of citizenship and the incomplete decolonization from apartheid legacy. More significantly, the study falsifies the notion of the Rainbow Nation as the findings conclude that South African characters utilize xenophobic violence as a resistance strategy to form their identities and subjectivities.

HARDEV KAUR JUJAR SINGH is Associate Professor at the Department of English, Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia. Her research interests are African and Caribbean literature and trauma studies.

Kee Thuan Chye

Can ChatGPT and AI Write as Evocatively as You Can?

This is a practical writing workshop so there is no abstract. It questions whether AI will prove to be a threat to writing and literature and explores how writing by humans can remain eesntial and irreplaceable. It is an interactive workshop, and participants are expected to carry out activities and contribute ideas.

KEE THUAN CHYE has been an actor, playwright, stage director, journalist, lecturer, political commentator, author. Between 2009 and the present, he has written more than a dozen political books, among them No More Bullshit, Please, We’re All Malaysians. His latest book is Lim Kit Siang: Malaysian First.

His poems have been published in numerous anthologies and journals. As a playwright, he is best known for 1984 Here and NowSwordfish + Concubine and We Could **** You, Mr Birch, which has been adopted as a text by numerous Malaysian colleges and universities since the mid-1990s.

He has been acting in theatre, TV and film over the last 45 years. He has appeared in Hollywood and international productions as well as Malaysian and Singapore TV shows. On stage, the one role he is proudest of is that of Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.

He was among four recipients of The Annexe Hero Awards for speaking up without fear in 2009. He has also been a judge and regional chairperson of the Commonwealth Writers Prize.

In 2019, he was appointed Sasterawan d-Universiti at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) for a year. He is now Adjunct Professor at Taylor’s University.

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