Dalit in the 21st Century Classroom: A Review of Listen to the Flames: Texts and Readings from the Margins

Eds. Tapan Basu, Indranil Acharya and A Mangai, Listen to the Flames: Texts and Readings from the Margins. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2016. ISBN: 9780199467600. Pages: 159, Price: Rs. 250/-

Reviewed by Arpita Raj

Research Scholar in the Department of English, Vidyasagar University. Email:

  Volume 9, Number 1, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v9n1.38

Standing on the platform of the postmodern century the lived experiences of pain, suffering, anguish, injustice and violence of the marginalised section have been translated into reality through the editors of the book, Listen to the Flames: Texts and Readings from the Margins. To speak in one word, Dalit is undoubtedly a condition. There is a gulf of difference between the then society of the Dalit and of the present. Even, the writers (both Dalit and non-Dalit) have to face the challenge to translate Dalit ideology1 through the literary pieces. Listen to the Flames: Texts and Readings from the Margins is no doubt a unique glimpse to the social, geographical, political and historical representations of Dalit visionaries to rejuvenate tender minds to the direction of Dalit ideology for the centuries to come. Students of today will be motivated by its diversification, multicultural journey, unconventional dogmas, and alternative aestheticism beyond the mainstream literature.

Under such background, the editors of the book, Listen to the Flames: Texts and Readings from the Margins have very successfully accomplished their job. The editors have most probably completed their three fold job in representing the marginalised voices. Firstly, the book has appropriately represented the voices that had been marginalised for a long time. The voices that had been suppressed by the machination of the higher caste society find representation through the writings of both Dalit and non-Dalit writers. The second important thing is that the book has showed a great concern for the pain and suffering, pathos, anguish, anger, protest, injustice and oppression meted out to the downtrodden. Lastly, the book has fulfilled the need of the undergraduate and post graduate students and has introduced them to the socio-political situation inter-woven with Dalit reality. It can be said that the editors are more than successful in achieving all the above concerns. The anthology has dealt with the works of twenty one significant Dalit writers. The editors of this volume have included a number of genres like prose, poetry, short stories, drama, autobiography, biography, memoirs etc. by famous Dalit writers. The anthology brings into focus the voices in twelve Indian languages. The languages are Tamil, Bengali, Urdu, Gujarati, Malayalam, Assamese, Odia, Punjabi, Hindi, Telegu, Marathi and Kannada. The inclusion in English is from B. R. Ambedkar’s writings. The introduction acquaints the readers with an overview of Dalit scenario. The lucid description by the editors on the important issues is divided into neat paragraphs with apt sub-headings – ‘caste: definition and manifestations’, ‘class and caste’, ‘caste and race – debate revisited from untouchable to Dalit’, ‘anti-caste movements’, ‘Ambedkar’s legacy’, ‘caste and patriarchy’, ‘the complexities, Dalit assertion after Ambedkar’, ‘the aesthetics of Dalit writing’, ‘addressing caste’-offer a suitable classroom teaching to the undergraduate students. The issues work as the eye-opener in respect of the studies of Dalit literature. In the anthology, the writings of both famous writers like Sharankumar Limbale’s Akkarmashi and Bama’s Just One Word and less significant writing like Susil Mandal’s poem, The Sunderbans, are noticed. Jayant Parmar in a direct way has addressed his words in his poems The Last Will of a Dalit Poet and I am a Man like You. Sri Lakshman’s autobiography, Undying Love translated from Kannada by Susheela Punitha has dealt with the problems of love and marriage of a couple from lower caste society. In the story, Just One Word, Bama has captured the caste sentiment of Indian society. An autobiography by Sadalakshmi, The Last Places for a Dalit Women, focuses on the strong will that turns woman from lower caste to a state minister. C. Ayyappan’s short story, Madness, Achintya Biswas’s drama, Portrait of Ambedkar, Balbir Madhopuri’s autobiography, Against the Night, Indranil Acharya’s Agonyetc in a certain way introduce the readers to the histories of ‘other’. These works often speak about the loss, sufferings, violation, anger and search for an identity of the Dalits.

The anthology fulfils the demands to be a textbook of Dalit literature for the undergraduate students. Each of the entries in the anthology contains a biographical note of the author, observation of the author and a brief introduction. A series of questions in the form of exercise and activity has followed each text in the book.

In 2011, Chandra Bhan Prasad founded a temple at Banka village in Uttar Pradeesh2. The name of the resident deity is goddess of learning English. He acknowledges this deity as the ruling goddess of Dalit renaissance. On one hand the goddess holds a pen and on the other she clutches the Constitution of India – a text that has attempted to restore the human dignity of Dalit people. Most of the Dalit intellectuals could not deride the dominance of English culture. They think English invasion in India challenged the rigorous caste system and helped in the development of a liberal outlook. Listen to the Flames: Texts and Readings from the Margins contains a few stories that capture this divergent perspective of the colonial history. However, this love of English language and culture does not limit itself to blind imitation. The first-generation authors of the Dalit society have internalized the influences of modern language, religion and culture on their own terms. In fact, the future of ‘Indian’ identity lies in the hands of these new breed of Dalit authors who may successfully resist colonial hegemony of two hundred years and script a new history of modern India. That is why Tamil Dalit poet Rajkumar, the son of a witch doctor, speaks of his exotic roots in his poems. His poetry becomes a repository of the myths, folk rituals, magic and folk beliefs prevalent in his society. A sense of pride and belonging to his primitive community manifests itself in his modern poems. The poem thunders curses at the upper-caste people – curses that reflect suppressed anger of centuries. The reader notices a subversion of the stereotype of Brahminical wrath and resultant curses. This genuine Dalit resentment and retaliation seems no less powerful than the upper- caste rhetoric of aggression.


  1. Dalit ideology’ is primarily a home ground movement started in India against the oppressors. Though the plight of the oppressed classes is a global phenomenon, it is special in the context of India as the caste issues are mixed up with the economic deprivation.
  2. Banka is a small village in the district of Lakshmipur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh. The village is famous for the temple of the Goddess of English. The temple is built up with an aim to encourage local Dalits to learn English language. In the temple more than three feet tall idol is in the shape of a computer holding a pen and a copy of Indian constitution.


Bama.Karukku.Trans. Lakshmi Holmstrom. New Delhi: OUP India, 2014. Print.

Dasan, M, V Pratibha, C. S. Chandrika and Pradeepan Pampirikunna. Eds. The Oxford

Anthology of Malayalam Dalit Writing. New Delhi: OUP India, 2012. Print.

Limbale, Sharankumar. The Outcaste.Trans. Santosh Bhoomkar.New Delhi: OUP India, Print.

Puroshotham, K. Gita Ramaswamy and Gogu Shyamala. Eds. The Oxford Anthology of

Telegu Dalit Writing. New Delhi: OUP India, 2016. Print.

RavikumarD.and R. Azhagarasan. Eds. The Oxford Anthology of Tamil Dalit Writing. New

Delhi: OUP India, 2012. Print.

Arpita Raj is a Research Scholar in the Department of English, Vidyasagar University. Her area of interest is on one of the most important tribes in India- Santals and their culture, society, literature and religion. She has published articles on “Beyond the Canon of Mammoth: An Eco-cultural Reading of Santal Folktales” and “Similarities of Culture and Religion of the Santals and the Hindus: A Study”. She has attended conferences and seminars on Santal literature, culture and their identity. Email:

The Plurality and Playfulness of Provincial Writing: A Review of Modernity and Provincial Writing: The Case of Manoj Das

Panchanan Dalai, Modernity and Provincial Writing: The Case of Manoj Das. Kolkata: Avenel Press. 2016. ISBN 978-93-80761-92-3. Pages 147. Paperback, Rs 300.

Reviewed by Nibedita Bandyopadhyay

A Doctoral Candidate of English at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. Email Id:  

 Volume 9, Number 1, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v9n1.37

 The choice of language in literary and cultural spheres has always been subjected to politics, undergirded by the ideologies of power and control. The controversy regarding the choice of the national language in India has caused much unrest in the past, and it is still a matter of discontent to many. Language politics can be traced back to the colonial period. And still, it prevails in the postcolonial India, where English as a language still enjoys an elitist fervor. Writers and critics have compartmentalized themselves over the selection of medium of expression. Some prefer English over the vernaculars, and some the reverse. Salman Rushdie’s provocative, yet controversial statement in the introduction to Mirrorwork that contains the Indian English Writings from 1947 to 1997, published in the year 1997 can be cited as an example of the parochialism of certain English educated elites who are yet to overcome their colonial hangover. Rushdie observes, “the prose writing– both fiction and non-fiction– created in the period [the fifty years after independence] by the Indian writers working in English . . . is providing to be a stronger and more important body of work than most of what has been produced in the eighteen recognized languages in India, the so-called vernacular languages, during the same time” (1997, p. vii-xx). This single sentence is powerful enough to ignite the age-old controversy involving English and the other vernaculars in India as the appropriate language for the artistic production.

Rushdie’s unsubstantial remark, however, betrays a veritable gap between the Indian English writers, and the regional writers writing in the vernaculars. Dr. P. Dalai’s insightful book Modernity and Provincial Writing: The Case of Manoj Das is a significant addition to the literary scholasticism of regional writing. Here he has subverted the binaries of different languages and has dismissed the charges of traditionalism, parochialism, and a lack of theoretical consciousness labeled against the vernaculars by foregrounding the works of Odisha’s leading bilingual writer Manoj Das. The book incorporates in itself the regional writers of the West like Thomas Hardy, George Eliot, Joyce, J. M. Synge, W. B. Yeats, Henri Bosco, Vasco Pratolini, and others to establish and elaborate Dalai’s discourse on the relevance and distinctiveness of regional writing. Regional writings and regional languages are in no way, as Dalai observes, “traditional, uncritical, and parochial” (2016, p. 7). The book appears to be a fitting rejoinder to the myopic critics and their established linguistic hierarchies that fail to grasp the fine nuances of “the pluralities and peculiarities amongst vernacular literatures” as pointed out by Dalai (2016, p. 66) that ironically leads to what G. N. Devy terms as “cultural demoralization”, as quoted by Dalai in his book (2016, p. 21). Manoj Das’s uniqueness lies in his linguistic dexterity of writing both in English and regional language which testifies that fact that if a writer is gifted with enough literary sensibility, the selection of language may not be a threat to him.

After establishing the sovereignty of the vernaculars, the book proceeds to bring to the fore the issues of national identity, geo-cultural specificity, historicity, and above all the enigmatic issue of modernity in the regional writings of India. He favours the use of vernaculars as these can fittingly capture the regional peculiarities in India, not in isolation from other vernaculars but in sync with the influences of each other. Therefore, he contextualizes Manoj Das’s work in the framework of Odia as well as Bengali, Punjabi, Hindi, and other literary canons in order to explore the relationship between “modernism, bilingualism, and creativity” as observed by Professor Sachidananda Mohanty in his ‘foreword’ to this book. Modernism, as commonly believed, is a product of European Enlightenment. But it would be misleading to perceive modernity in Indian literatures as solely a product of Europe. If the concept of modernism underlies fine literary sense and sensibility in theme and realism in technique, then as Dalai observes, Sarala Das’s Odia Vilanka Ramayana, Chandi Purana, Kashiram Das’s Bangla Mahabharata, and Tulsi Das’s Hindi Mahabharata are apt examples of modern literatures conceived much before the beginning of the formal English education in India. Manoj Das and his contemporary Odia writers were influenced both by English education and the legacy of pre- independence Indian literature. Therefore, their writings are chiseled by the wonderful amalgamation of modernist sensibility and regional peculiarities. Eurocentric theories like Marxism, feminism, and psychoanalysis strengthen their critical faculty and Indian folk, myths and legends mould their finer observation of Indian life. Dalai’s book by comparing and contrasting different writers from Odisha and other regions confers justice to this stage of transition when young educated minds were caught in the juncture of modernity and traditionalism in the pre and post-independent India. The book is enriched by the exemplary writings of Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay, Michael Madhusudan Dutt of the pre-Gandhian era and Mulk Raj Anand, R. K. Narayan, Raja Rao of post-Gandhian India to show how Manoj Das and his contemporaries were influenced by these writers. Dalai is especially attentive to Bengali literature because Orissa and Bengal being two neighbor states share many socio-cultural similarities, and most importantly Manoj Das himself hails from the border district of Balasore sharing its border with West Bengal.

The book is arranged in six chapters. First three chapters of the book, namely, “Modernity and Bilingualism”, “Manoj Das and Regional Writing”, “Ethnography and Regional Writing: The Case of Manoj Das” map out the issues of modernity, bilingualism, provincial writing and the. The following chapters, “Writing Provinces and Tracking Changing Times”, Province, “Patriarchy and Women”, “Of Motherhood and Motherhood” speculate how Manoj Das traces out the contemporary ‘life and times’ and Odia literature, gradual transformation of Odisha from an agrarian state to an industrial one and the role, and status of women and mothers in the changing social scenario. Manoj Das is especially attentive to the plights of the subalterns and their positions in the trajectory of historical, social and cultural transformations. According to Dalai, Manoj Das’s writing explores the “political emergency, apathy, duplicity towards peasantry” (2016, p. 67).

The book also captures Das’s depiction of the transition of rural Odisha from feudalism to capitalism and the subsequent decay of the Zamindar aristocracies. Das does this almost in the manner of renowned Bengali novels like Tarasankar Bandyopadhyay’s “Jalsaghar” (1938), which later on turned into a film by Satyajit Ray and Bimal Mitra’s Saheb Bibi Golam (1962) that too got the filmy adaptation in both Hindi and Bengali languages. The change in the socio-economic status after the independence produced a shock to the aristocratic families. They failed to come to the terms with the new industrial-capitalistic order of the society. Their nostalgia about the lost grandeur and the deterioration that followed after, are described in such a manner that creates poetry steeped in sadness. However, the suffering of the common people remained the same even after such a huge transformation of the society. Dalai ponders upon issues like Feudalism and sexuality, patriarchal control of the female body, and the subjugation of the females of the marginalized section to the lust of upper-class males, domestic violence, and disproportionate distribution of wages among the male and female labourers. Such novellas like Cyclones and A Tiger in the Twilight depict the historiography of the Zamindar families. While dealing with the social transformation, the book also depicts twilight of freedom struggles against the British. The book rightly points out the ironic treatment of the new rising self-motivated politicians for whom “patriotism is nothing more than finding a favourable seat in the state legislature” (2016, p. 47).

Many of Das’s stories, as Dalai has discussed, show the resistance of the villagers to the state hegemony like development at the cost of local environment. In this respect, the novella Cyclones (1987) by Manoj Das can be read as the paradigm of ecocriticism. The novella depicts the environmental degradation of an eco-friendly village, where both the local government officials and greedy corporate join hands to devastate the environment for money. Das’s writing touches burning issues of environment like the construction of dams by dislocating poor people, unmindful felling of trees, and maltreatment of people who are closer to nature that leads social activists and writers like Medha Patkar and Arundhati Roy to raise their voices. Dalai’s book is enhanced by his dialogue with different literary theories and his humanitarian grounding of the act of criticism.

Manoj Das is truly sympathetic towards the struggles that the females undergo in the patriarchal social setup of India. He has presented the true image of Indian mothers’ hardships to sustain their families. The image of motherhood, for example, often becomes oppressive for the poor mothers. “Lakshmi’s Adventure”, a short story by Das, depicts the heart-rending pangs of a poor mother who cannot afford to buy a frock for her girls. Expanded in the bigger canvas, the father’s debt to the money-lender in the same story depicts very common scenarios of rural India where till today poor farmers are committing suicides for failing to repay the debts. Thus, parenthood for the poor people often becomes an ordeal in the capitalist order of the day.

Das’s writing as explored by Dalai can be fitted into the trajectory of feminism. “The Poison Girl”, a short story, deals with the compulsion of a woman to take prostitution to earn her livelihood and the society’s subsequent rejection of her. His other female characters like Lalita, Heera, Gauri, Sati though victims of male oppressions, are unique in their individuality, beauty, profession, and their struggle for livelihood.

The book is, therefore, a worthy and timely contribution to the meager researches done on Manoj Das, and especially in English. Apart from being one of the few critical books on Das, the book also opens up other unexplored dimensions of Das: the hermeneutics of Das’s creative career and socio-cultural transformation of Orissa; the semblance of Bengali influence, the presence of homosociality, the treatment of female issues, Odia subaltern class, etc. to name a few. In the final analysis, Dalai’s literary oeuvre emerges to be perceptive, yet free from redundancy, superfluous linguistic and theoretical jargons that make the book easily accessible to every type reader.


Dalai, P. (2016). Modernity and Provincial Writing: The Case of Manoj Das. Kolkata: Avenel  Press.

Rushdie, Salman (1997). “Introduction.” In Salman Rushdie and Elizabeth West (Eds.), Mirrorwork (vii-xii). New York: Henry Holt.

Nibedita Bandyopadhyay is a doctoral candidate of English at the department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India. She is a recipient of Junior Research Fellowship (JRF), conferred by University Grant Commission. Recently, she presented her research work in American Studies Association, Denver, U. S.


Review Article: The Fragrant Joom Revisited: A Translation of Kokborok Poetry in English by Ashes Gupta

Ashes Gupta, The Fragrant Joom revisited: A translation of Kokborok poetry in English (Akshar Publications, Agartala 2017), 144 pages, Rs. 250.

Reviewed by Sukla Singha

Research Scholar, Department of English, Tripura University, Tripura, India.

Orcid: 0000-0003-4948-7297. Email:

 Volume 9, Number 1, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v9n1.36

When one wishes to read and understand a piece of literary writing (poem or prose) originally written in a language very different from one’s own and probably even beyond one’s comprehension, one is left with no other choice but to depend on the translation of the original text, in a language that one is familiar with, although not necessarily one’s mother tongue. The text in question is The Fragrant Joom revisited, a collection of poems originally written in Kokborok, the principal language of the natives of the state of Tripura, and translated to English by Ashes Gupta, eminent translator and academician of the state. The first edition of the book had come out in 2006, and in the words of the translator and editor:

“A decade has passed since the first publication of The Fragrant Joom in 2006. It’s time to revisit the old joom again, time to feel new blooms and new fragrances that time had brought to life in a land criss-crossed by myriad influences – social, economic, cultural and political.”

In the foreword to the second edition, Gupta bares all his heart and words describing why he started taking a keen interest in Kokborok poetry despite belonging to a different community (Bengali) of the state. He calls himself “an involved outsider and not an involved insider” whose refugee ancestors, when they were disowned by their own homeland (Bangladesh), had found shelter and solace in this land inhabited by indigenous people. Through this anthology, Gupta expresses his gratitude to the poets and the people of Tripura who encouraged him in this literary odyssey that he feels is an “acknowledgement of that debt, which many of my own people, disoriented as they are, have forgotten to acknowledge.” He further adds that the vogue of translating Kokborok poetry does not claim of an age old history and is born out of his growing interest in the tribal culture & literature of the state.

Since I myself do not understand Kokborok, the first thing that had struck me about the volume was perhaps the ‘feel-good’ title of the book. The word ‘Joom’ (also written as Jhum) refers to shifting cultivation practiced by the tribal population of Tripura. The native Jhumias (people engaged in shifting cultivation) of Tripura, often referred to as the sons of the soil, share and nurture a deep filial bond with the mysterious dense green forests, the ever beckoning hills, the melancholy tunes of the ‘Sumui’ and most importantly with the fragrant earth that feeds them. Therefore, the title of the book is aptly suggestive of the emotions of the hill people and their native imagery which run riot throughout the book. This ‘revisited’ anthology which runs to a total of one hundred and forty-four pages includes the poetry (written mostly in free/ blank verse) of nineteen eminent poets of the state who write in Kokborok. Many of these poets such as Chandrakanta Murasingh, Nandakumar Debbarma, Shefali Debbarma, Bijoy Debbarma etc. have been published in important anthologies on north-east writings published by NEHU (2003), Penguin Books (2009) and Oxford University Press (2011). What is interesting to note is the overarching presence of nature in the works of most of these Kokborok poets. Other prominent themes of their poetry include: romantic love, problems of insurgency in the state, loss of cultural values, loss of identity due to intrusion of dominant groups etc. to name a few.

Shyamlal Debbarma’s poem “Reality” takes the reader to the world of the industrious Jhumias who live a hand-to-mouth life in the remote villages, far from the luxuries of the modern city life. In conversation with his elder brother (who seems to be living in the city), the angst of the younger sibling Hachukrai, a jhumia, is expressed in the lines: “I am fine Ata, /gnashing my teeth like all others, /squeezing the last drop of oil /from a single mustard seed, /avoiding demands made by the wife, /with all my children /Surviving Ata /piling debt upon debt (20).

Nature announces her indispensable presence in Kokborok poets. Forests are considered to be the lifeline of the tribal life in Tripura. Hence Nandakumar Debbarma speaks of the emotional relationship between the forests and the indigenous folk of the land: “You cannot abandon her/ She is embedded in your heart. /Neither consumed by fire, /nor destroyed by water/ waking up in your dreams/she speaks to you” (31). In the poem titled “Rain after drought”, the poet speaks of a refreshing rain that God had sent on earth for the hardworking jhumias: “Both wearing loincloths /reaching up to the knee, /hesitant faces, /with the fragrance of the earth and corn /all over their body” (29). Sachlang Tripura observes in “In close proximity to people”: White bata flowers bloom /in the Longtorai Valley. /Along with it blooms the toksa yadobsa. /The cry of the kungkok bird and /the rambling of rain laden clouds/ spread pollens of love” (100). The rich imagery of the mythical birds ‘Uang’, ‘Nuyai’ and the demon ‘Asikolok’ in the poems of Shyamlal Debbarma, Sudhanya Tripura, Kishore Murasingh and Dipali Debbarma successfully transport the readers to the world of dark folklores and myths that still serve as sentinels to the age-old tribal culture and society of the state: “Asikolokma goes round my home /with steps resounding thum thom thum thom /In whose house is it now…/That scary voice of yours /still raises goose pimples all over my body (21).

The translations of the ‘modernist poets’, especially the poetry of  Bikash Roy Debbarma and Kishore Murasingh make one come to terms with the harsh and painful truth of the never ending  conflict between the indigenous folks and the Bengalis (non-tribal population) of the state. Veteran poet Utpal Debbarma’s quest for identity in his own homeland is profound in the lines: “On a temporal road I move today /without any constancy in life. /My hearth is dark, companionless I have nowhere to go. /And the story of my striking roots is now lost” (139). The simple yet powerful translation brings forth the poignant predicament of the tribal population of the land: firstly, they are often labeled as a member of the banned outfit of the state, and secondly, the intervention in the cultural, social and literary spaces of their lives (as the age old belief goes) by the Bengali community has resulted in an unwanted change in as well as a loss of the old tribal rituals and traditions. In his poem “Identity”, Kishore Murasingh portrays the morbid and bleak state of the identity of the natives: “Contemporaries call me; /‘Hey mama.’ /Teacher calls me, /‘Hello extremist’. /To the police, /I am a terrorist. /To the leader, /I am a man from the backward class. /To a ration dealer, /I am a BPL card holder. /To somebody else, /‘Hey pahariya’. /To some others, /separatist. /There may be innumerable identities. /Sometimes I wonder, /is it not possible for me to be known /as a relative, a brother, a friend, /or as a human being (127). The dilemma of a troubled existence due to the conflict within and outside one’s entity finds expression in the following lines by the same poet: “I am a living fossil, /I am held captive in a stony darkness” (123). Poet Bikash Roy Debbarma’s “Text Message” shocks us with the casual yet serious tone of presenting the problems of insurgency in the land, where taking up arms had once become a house hold way of protecting one’s own culture and identity: “How long can we tolerate, /time’s moving out of hands. /Take up arms/…Move… (66). The feelings of burning rage and anguish of a tribal youth, probably trying to come to terms with the changes around him and the pressure of the conflict within himself, or simply put, the ethnic conflicts between the tribals and the non-tribals of the state, the bloodshed etc. are evident in the lines of poet Sudhanya Tripura: “Again and again /I speak of love. /I converse with men /in the language of the mind. /Yet, why do men /speak the language of bloodshed? /Why do they desire to speak/ in the language of bloodshed? (90)

Although all the poets included in this volume of translation have their own unique styles of composing verses, yet there is a common thread that binds all their poetry, the thread being the native imagery employed in the poems and their love of the land. The indigenous imagery of the burnt ‘Joom’, ‘the Tongghor’, ‘the Chongpreng’, ‘the Nuyai bird’, ‘the chatak’, ‘the sharinda’ etc. appear as recurrent themes or leitmotifs throughout the volume: “My path leads to the Chethuang forest, /leads to the tongghar in the orchard; /all around my path is Longmaku Shampari /and Longtorai, Shakantan, Jompui, Atharamura…(87). These images are not only an integral part of the tribal life, but also serve as witnesses to the perennial despair and anxiety suffered by the tribal population of the state as Sudhyana Tripura writes: “Someone has taken away the joom crop /Now in the vacant joom hill, /My weeping heart /Stands spellbound (95).

Since an attempt to provide an exact equivalent to the original (native) word might have given birth to an ambiguity in meaning or a sense of loss of cultural sensibility, therefore, the translator has judiciously and deliberately chosen to retain many Kokborok words in his translations of the original texts, such as the ones cited in the previous paragraphs and stanzas, so that these culture-symbols or culture-codes are well understood by the reader who is supposedly an alien or an outsider to the culture of the language being translated. But at the same time, since it is also impossible for the translator to completely negate his own identity and voice in any process of translation (Gupta 2009, 110), therefore it seems that throughout this volume, the translator has tried to create a world of his own perspectives of ethnic clashes, cultural confusions and loss of identity of the tribes of the land, based on his understanding of the tribal culture & society without interrupting the originality of the ‘fragrant’ verses.

Although Gupta mentions in the foreword that while translating Kokborok poetry, he had felt that “there is a lack of authentic female voices in this genre”, the reader does not quite agree to this view of his. It is true that there are not many female poets in the state who write in Kokborok, but the poetry of Shefali Debbarma and Dipali Debbarma, two prominent names in the genre of Kokborok poetry of Tripura whose works feature in this anthology, voice their expressions of agony, love, loss of the past etc. as authentically as their male counterparts have done. As a matter of fact, the inclusion of two new female poets Kamalia Debbarma and Sabita Debbarma definitely gives a boost to the women writing scene in Kokborok literature of the state. The mythical Nuyai bird comes to life in the words of Dipali Debbarma: “O Nuyai bird, fly back /Over my house again. /You are a living memory /In our fairy tales. /Ruffle your strong winds, /Unfurl your colorful plumes; /beholding you, I shall compose a poem (103). Her reminiscences of a golden past, replete with memories of the family members, the changing seasons, the night sky, the ‘chongpreng’ and the ‘sharinda’ etc. in the poem “Who Shall wake us up”, faithfully tell a painful tale of the nostalgia and loss she is made to live with. The lines perhaps instantly remind us of Kamala Das’ “Evening at the Old Nalapat House”: “The strains of that melody still linger in my heart. /With cobwebs of my grandpa’s memory in a corner of the room /hangs the sharinda, its strings raptured. /I ask myself, “Stringing it again, /who shall evoke the lost tune?” (104).

Shefali Debbarma’s poem “Lamination” records the painful sentiments of the tribal folks of the state who are known mostly by the Schedule Tribe cards that they carry. The laminated caste certificate serves not only as a proof of their identity on the land but also seems to constantly remind the cardholder that he/she belongs to a less sophisticated-more barbaric group or civilization. These native jhumias or hill people have always been pushed to the margins as well as discriminated against by the supposedly superior groups of the place. Just as the Brahmin who could not move beyond the ‘caste-mark’ on his forehead in Kolatkar’s “The Bus”, Debbarma seems to be suggesting that the non-tribal people of the state possess a prejudice against the natives of the land since the latter belong to the Schedule Tribe category:

                        Today, after almost a century

                        the risa and pachchra have been torn to shreds

                        and diligent termites have fed on the khutruk;

                        only the S.T. card shines bright within the lamination. (116)

When one re-reads an enlarged and extended version of a book that one had reviewed some years ago, it obviously gives one an opportunity to look at things from new perspectives that probably could not be located in the maiden version. This review, therefore, may be seen as an act of rediscovering of or making up for things left unsaid in the first edition, which certainly calls for a comparative analysis of the two editions. Some important observations in this regard are, firstly, apart from the twelve poets featured in the first edition, this volume includes the poetry of seven new poets. These poets are Kunjabihari Debbarma, Kamalia Debbarma, Sunil Debbarma, Utpal Debbarma, Snehamoy Roy Choudhury, Lakkhidhan Murasingh and Sabita Debbarma.  Secondly, this edition includes improvised versions of some (old) poems that were featured in the first volume. Third, the use of a smaller (perhaps better) font size that suits the ‘modern’ eye has changed the overall appeal of the book in a positive way. Fourth, the cover design of the maiden edition flaunting a dark background with a tree in the middle, perhaps symbolic of the despair and hopelessness of the tribes as well as their affinity and rootedness to the their soil, has been replaced with the design of Tripuri pachhra (a traditional attire in red and white stripes). The use of this motif may be seen as an attempt to restore the lost tribal ethos back to the roots. Last but not the least, the final product, a unique and authentic volume of translation that leaves one amazed at the richness of the Kokborok culture, society & literature, is worth keeping on one’s bookshelves.


Gupta, A. (2009) “Translation as an Act of Ventriloquism: The Author-Translator Hegemony in English Translations of Kokborok Poetry.” Translation Today 6.1: pp 107-112. Print.

Misra, T. (2011) ed. The Oxford Anthology of Writings from North-East India: Poetry and Essays. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Print.

Ngangom, R.S., and Nongkynrih, K.S. (2009) eds. Dancing Earth: An Anthology of Poetry from North-East India. New Delhi: Penguin Books. Print.

Nongkynrih, K.S., and Ngangom, R.S. (2003) eds. Anthology of Contemporary Poetry from the North-East. Shillong: North Eastern Hill University. Print.

Singha, S. (2016) “Eco-critical Concerns in Kokborok Poetry from Tripura: A Reading of Select Texts in English Translation.” Muse India Archives. Issue 66, March-April 2016. Retrieved on 10 June 2016.

Review Article: In the Archive of Longing: Susan Sontag’s Critical Modernism

Mena Mitrano, In the Archive of Longing: Susan Sontag’s Critical Modernism (Edinburgh:  Edinburgh University Press, 2016), 214 Pages, £70.00, ISBN 978-1-4744-1434-0.

Reviewed by Rajni Singh

Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines), Dhanbad, India. ORCID: 0000-0002-1569-8339. Email:

 Volume 9, Number 1, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v9n1.35

Mena Mitrano’s In the Archive of Longing: Susan Sontag’s Critical Modernism is an illuminating archival scrutiny of Sontag’s conflicting cravings for ‘knowledge and experience’. The book lays open the rich and diverse intellectual experiences of a young and aspiring writer who wished to transform literary criticism into a privileged space of reflection. Mitrano affirms that Sontag’s cry for ‘new’ brought her accolades (but only in the later part of her career) as well as condemnation. René Wellek paired her with Roland Barthes and rejected her for her appeal for a ‘new’ beginning by tagging her as a destroyer of criticism.

As Mitrano shows, Sontag’s archive “remains largely understudied” (2) the project presents ‘the Sontag’ who chose to be anti-philosopher or rather ‘non-traditional philosopher’. The archive of Sontag is examined under seven headings: ‘Thoughts about Thinking: Approaching Sontag’, ‘Aesthetic Experience and Critical Theory’, ‘The Public Intellectual’, ‘Modernism and Theory’, ‘Iconologies’, ‘Aura, Dread and the Amateur’, and ‘Interlocution’. Apart from these seven chapters, the book offers to its readers an ‘Introduction’ to understand the disparate linking in Sontag’s archive and also provides ‘Coda’ to its ‘gentle readers’.

Certainly, Mitrano’s close readings of Sontag’s papers bring to the fore the longings of an artist in performance for ‘self-fashioning’ and ‘self-creation’. Sontag’s intellectual musings on the prominent theorists of her time reveal that modernism and theory seemed to happen at the same time. Mitrano observes that “Sontag was aware of theory, read it, but did not join in- at least not overtly.” (3) She speculates that Sontag’s distancing from theory’s genealogies stemmed from her urge to create a new, never complete discourse which would focus on the gaps, the missing links of meaning, and which would hold a possibility ‘to see more’, ‘to hear more’, ‘to feel more’- a site which would invite the reader to the field of ‘unlimited semiosis’. Like Victor Shlovsky, Sontag shared the perception that modernism is a set of aesthetic practices without any fixed boundaries and like Peter Szondi, she looked toward Barthes and Derrida, who ushered a new theory of literature. Sontag’s archive is a testimony of her silent moving towards a new hermeneutics, which would foster ‘real thinking’ and elude the constrictions of the finished concept.

Mitrano examines the varied influences that shaped Sontag’s thoughts and works. Sontag was greatly influenced by the Frankfurt School. Moreover, she was in dialogue with contemporary theorists like Fredric Jameson, Michael Foucault, etc. Foucault’s notion of power impacted her ‘inquiry into fascist aesthetics’ whereas in Gilles Deleuze’s ‘schizoanalysis’ she found her project- ‘flight from interpretation’. While exploring Sontag’s associations with the critical theory of the earlier Frankfurt School, Mitrano specifically focuses on the Adorno-Sontag relationship. She bases her discussion on a close reading of Sontag’s Styles of Radical Will (1969) and Adorno’s Minima Moralia (1951) in order to show how Sontag inherited Adorno’s key idea-the relation of philosophy to writing. Moreover, the rigorous underlining of certain sections of Minima Moralia, which Mitrano talks about, indicates Sontag’s anxiety to understand Adorno, as she wrote: “A volume of Adorno is equivalent to a whole shelf of books on literature.” Further, there are strokes of linkages between Sontag and Derrida as both believed in a productive dialogue between philosophy and literature. Indeed Sontag’s connection to Derrida is intriguing. Mitrano discusses their affinities and how they were both working against interpretation, but Derrida preferred calling it ‘grammatology’. Despite this philosophical kinship, in Sontag there is a departure from philosophy.

Sontag’s distancing from philosophy brought her closer to art and this happened when she came in contact with Paul Thek, a New York based artist, in 1959. Thek imbued his work with a distinctive personal symbolism to present a reality which could stand parallel to external reality. Thek’s Technological Reliquaries often referred to as ‘Meat Pieces’ comprised hyper-realistic slabs of meat sculpted in wax and paint. Mitrano speculates that Sontag must have been drawn toward Thek’s allegorical incorporation of the past. Thus Sontag’s first introduction to allegory happened through Thek. Moreover, Sontag’s constant shuttling between body and mind and her quest for embodied thought might have had its source in Thek’s art. While pondering over ’what is a body?’ Sontag writes, “Knowing has to do with an embodied consciousness (not just a consciousness) this is the great neglected issue in phenomenology (from Descartes + Kant through Husserl + Heidegger)-Sartre+ Merleau-Ponty have begun to take it up.” (100) With Thek, Sontag moved on to participate in the wider philosophical discourse on art. Some of the essays in Against Interpretation, especially, ‘Against Interpretation’, ‘Happenings’, ‘The Anthropologist as Hero’, and ‘The Artist as Exemplary Sufferer’ resonate with the intellectual-artistic exchange between the two. Mitrano is of the opinion that Thek’s art “encouraged the visionary investment in a conceptual tabula rasa, a surface of pure forms to be experienced with the senses. This erotics of art certainly reclaimed the modernist autonomy of art…art’s capacity to pose a parallel reading to the historical one.”(108) Sontag’s fidelity to the autonomy of art was further established with Jasper Johns who re-introduced her to the modernist avant-gardes. Her friendship with Johns brought her closer to Robert Rauschenberg’s (American painter and graphic artist) ‘cinematically organised fragmented surface’ (111). Rauschenberg deployed non-traditional materials and objects to build innovative combinations. His experimentations with collage elements might have enchanted Sontag, who too dwelled on the idea of an incomplete and broken philosophical critical plane. His art must have charged her passion of becoming. All these interactions helped her to understand modernism as ‘a living-thinking-writing continuum to the present’. Sontag was aware of the gradual decline of philosophy and therefore she turned to the modernist autonomy of art which would promise a ‘thought beyond thought’. Her association with the New York School of artists stirred up her defence of the autonomy of art.

Susan Sontag emerged as a public intellectual in the 1960s, but the saga of her success is hidden in her archive. Sontag, the philosophy student, had studied the prominent linguistic philosophers like A. J. Ayer, Paul Grice and J. L. Austin by 1957. Her papers show that she had read extensively right from Plato, Aristotle, Platonius, Augustine, John Duns Scotus to Paul Tillich. Mitrano demonstrates Sontag’s fascination with Plato. In 1955, at Harvard, Sontag had attended the lectures of Raphael Demos on Plato. Her graduate notes exhibit her inclination toward Plato’s ‘psyche’. She writes: “Psyche…is change, motion, activity, spontaneity, self-initiating source of change and activity in other things.”(85) She associates it with ‘freedom’, with being as becoming. Sontag was interested in Plato’s idea of Chora or Khora which suggests a receptacle, a space, a material substratum, or an interval. After pondering over Plato’s metaphor of cave, Sontag expressed her desire to write philosophy: “I want to write an essay like/a fist. I want to write an essay/ where the date (year) it’s written/ isn’t important. Philosophical, not historical; not culture-criticism.” (92) The anxiety to write propelled her to read more and more. In 1979 she read Erwin Panofsky’s discussion of Dürer’s Melencolia I in The Life and Art of Albrecht Dürer to appreciate the fusion of two iconographic types: ‘Melancholy’ and ‘Geometry’, and to develop her aesthetics of melancholia, but her choice to side with Benjamin’s ‘theory of melancholia’ is provocative. Melancholia dominates Sontag’s writing. She sympathetically wrote on melancholia and the reasons for it could be her own state of depression.  Mitrano says “In Sontag the melancholia is the melancholia of community – a community which constitutes thinkers and artists who comingle but are alone together.” Mitrano also traces the evidence that show Sontag’s affinities with Gilles Deleuze. She also conjectures that Piet Mondrian, the contributor to the De Stijl art movement, was not a random choice. Mondrian fashioned a non-representative form in art, which he termed neo-plasticism. Mitrano sees that in Sontag’s assessment of modernism Plato’s Chora and Mondrain’s ‘harmony’ seem ‘grafted together’.

Mitrano while talking about Sontag’s connection to Benjamin discusses at length, the ‘master/disciple’, ‘reader-writer’ relationship. The discussion comes to a fascinating junction when she traces ‘Sontag’s theft of Benjamin’s being’: ‘I was born under the sign of Saturn’. By repeatedly applying Benjamin’s self-objectification to herself, Sontag was actually accentuating her yearning for thought. It was eventually through Benjamin that Sontag found herself. He freed her from the reductive view of critical art. Sontag’s familiarity with Benjamin is visible in her entries between 1963 to March 1965, but her ties with Benjamin lasted for more than ten years. Her notes on Benjamin reveal her sheer focus on the artistic importance of photography which found expression in On Photography. If Adorno facilitated Sontag with his ideal of the critical theorist, Benjamin informed her with the critical gesture, kindling her ambition to write philosophically. It is at this juncture that she achieves success in realizing the relation of philosophy to writing.

In Sontag there is a preference for the unfinished form, for notes and fragments- ‘thinking and writing’, ‘seeing and thinking’ and this why in Regarding the Pain of Others, Sontag is the thinker as well as the ‘Vulnerable beholder’;  whilst her Against Interpretation is a ‘flight from interpretation’.

Sontag’s fidelity to modernism was such that it placed her opposite to György Lukács and others who identified themselves with Hegelian and Marxist ideologies. Nevertheless her dialogue with the New York avant-garde artists took her devotion to modernism to a much higher level.

The book, through its seven chapters and Coda, investigates the intellectual journey of Sontag. The boxes of Sontag’s archive unravel her affinities with the past as well as the present. Sontag’s passionate examination of modernism and theory compelled her mentor, Kenneth Burke to call her a ‘reporter of modernity’. Mitrano says that “in the archive Sontag gives the impression of having departed from philosophy, but without turning her back on it; she appears to have taken it elsewhere.”(89-90) Indeed, Sontag’s archive is ‘cartography of modernity’ with its embedded yearnings for a ‘new lexicon’. Philosophy in Sontag springs from ‘broken discourses’, from ‘something unwritten’, and from the connection between modernism and theory.

Sontag’s archive tantalizes the readers much more now than it ever did before and the credit for it goes to Mena Mitrano’s book. Approached as a whole, the author weaves together the different pieces of Sontag’s archive in an absorbing story, forcing us to take a new look at Sontag. I believe, a renewed impetus to read and understand Sontag, comes with this book. In the Archive of Longing: Susan Sontag’s Critical Modernism is a wealth of documentation that will enable other scholars to build on Mitrano’s achievements.

Rajni Singh is Associate Professor of English, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT (ISM), IIT (ISM), Dhanbad, India. ORCID: Email:

Review Article: The Indian Graphic Novel: Nation, History and Critique

Pramod K. Nayar, The Indian Graphic Novel: Nation, History and Critique (Routledge, First South Asia Edition, 2016), 212 Pages, 895 Rupees, ISBN 978-1-138-66851-5.

 Reviewed by Rajni Singh

Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines), Dhanbad, India. ORCID: 0000-0002-1569-8339. Email:

 Volume 9, Number 1, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v9n1.34

In this deftly constructed study, Pramod  K. Nayar’s orientation is towards engendering an acceptance for the Indian graphic novel which is still fairly new to the connoisseurs, scholars and students of Indian Writing in English. Through an investigative and analytical approach he looks at the Indian graphic novel that possesses all the requisites of a literary text. Talking about the form of the graphic narrative, he argues that it has an edge over the other dominant genres as it simultaneously engages the reader to the act of reading and perceiving and that its form is enriched with range and versatility. It embodies a unique inter-play of word and image, the literal and the symbolic layer of interpretation and even its gaps or absences render a field of signification. It not only communicates with its readers, but directly involves them and makes them the key players in the production of meaning. Its ‘seeable’ and ‘sayable’ mode allows the reader to inhabit the virtual space. Embedded with the power of the visual-the verbal-the gaps, the graphic narratives have become a potent medium to satirize and critique upon the follies of the society. Pondering over the appropriate form in which to represent or examine the issues of the nation, Nayar finds the medium to be the most befitting one. He vehemently asserts that the Indian graphic novel is perhaps the new literary form that the nation has been ‘longing for’. He contends, “For this freedom of representation, for taking the process of critique into a medium associated with just entertainment, for its opening up an array of story-telling strategies and for its insistence on tackling more social commentary and cultural critique of the nation’s lacunae of flaws, the graphic novel heralds a major shift within IWE.” (p. 8) Nayar’s claim is undisputed, but one cannot brush aside the fact that the Indian graphic narrative’s move from margin to mainstream may perhaps not be so easy in an academic culture where there is limited scope for experimentation and inclusion of the ‘new’. Also this form has to rigorously compete with the dominant literary forms of IWE. Undoubtedly in the West, the graphic novel has witnessed a spectacular rise which has put an end to the debate on its legitimacy and the credit to its renewed status goes to the several promotional platforms such as publishing houses, literary magazines, journals, university classrooms that have been instrumental in establishing it as a work of seriousness and merit. Nayar, too, attempts to situate the Indian graphic novel as a work of scholarship. He engages with the history of graphic text for an understanding of the medium.

The study opens with the definitional problems in ‘comics’, ‘graphic novels’, and ‘graphic narratives’, which are addressed through a range of references made to critic-practitioners like Scott McCloud, Marianne Hirsch, Art Spiegelman, Thomas Doherty, Frank Miller, Rocco Versaci, Hillary Chute, Ben Lander and others.

In order to dispel the myth that surrounds the visual narrative genre – as something which is aesthetically inferior to other literary forms, a non-academic, non-serious stuff- Nayar examines the Indian graphic novel which tends to demonstrate the lives of the Indians through effective narrative and visual conventions. He analyzes the works of writers and illustrators like Orijit Sen, Sarnath Banerjee, Appupen, Viswajyoti Ghosh, Amruta Patil, Gautam Bhatia, Srividya Natarajan and S. Anand, Nina Sabnani, Pratheek Thomas and others as their texts have debated history, historical events, documented and satirized contemporary Indian culture and society.

To dwell on historical representation and its associated problems, Nayar selects stories from a transnational range of graphic narratives in which history is accessed through the verbal and the visual layers. The stories deal with ordinary people and undocumented facts without any scrupulous accuracy to provide the readers applied knowledge of the past. Instead of the ‘saying’ (as in history) or the ‘showing’ (as in historical novels)[i], it combines both and thus offers to its reader multiplicity of reality. The silent actors in the Graphic novel (as found in The Barn Owl’s Wondrous Capers), the silences between the images, fragmented actions and movements, the kaleidoscopic arrangement of images, the deployment of space and spatial arrangements, the page layout created through gutters and frames, agency of looking, shape of panels, eye-catching posters, poster-panels with pronouncements (as in Delhi Calm) exhibit a semiotic strategy that go together in decoding the text. Nayar asserts that the visual of the graphic fiction is much effective than photography which is “memory-storing activity”[ii]. Photographs are ‘emplotment’, they capture “the public memory”, but the graphic novels are “personal recall and sentimental narratives” (p. 22). In Ankur Ahuja’s The Red Ledger (This Side, That Side) he demonstrates how photographs are the artefacts that ensure a post-memory. Photography “actually blocks memory, quickly becomes a counter-memory”[iii]. Nayar says “Expressionist language such as that of the graphic medium thus visualizes for us the exact locus of a historical moment: the human face.” (p.46) and in doing so, history in graphic narrative gets repoliticised.” (p. 46)

P.K. Nayar draws our attention to the Urban Graphics and ‘psychogeography’. He examines the spaces of horror in The Harappa Files and Corridor (The Barn Owl’s Wondrous Capers), and spaces of desire and gynecological gothic in Kari. He states: “the subtexts of these narratives generate a critical literacy about the reality behind a confident urban India.”(p. 77) He further analyzes the way the markers of cultural identity operate in graphic narratives and how ‘Parergons’, the seemingly unimportant or extraneous, also convey. He emphasizes on tracing the graphic voice by reading the distinctive connotations hidden beneath the theme and structure. In Sarnath Banerjee the cultural markers are woven in the form of ‘tableaux’ (the ‘IIT’ marker). He praises him for his deployment of ‘Stereoscopy’ for cultural commentary. Nayar avers that the visual stereoscopy “forces us to see these inequalities, fissures and oddities of Indian middle-class lives, normative femininity and state terror.”(p. 102) Further, Nayar illustrates the graphic narratives’ propensity for alternate histories. He sees a subtle projection of history and irony in Orijit Sen. His analysis of Srividya Natarajan’s A Gardener in the Wasteland brings to the fore the other bodies in history which are presented in grotesque shapes. He suggests that these “new visual protocol(s)” compels us to “reevaluate history…to see such figures as agents of a different history of India as well, one of violence, discrimination and exploitation.” (p. 121) Focusing on the satire in the Indian graphic novels, Nayar says that it primarily comes through ‘Caricature’ and ‘Cartoon’ along with the other modes like ‘Graphic Contrasts’ (juxtaposition of Alibaba and  Mishra in Gautam Bhatia’s Lie); ‘Graphic Commentary’ (the 5 different Panels on a single page that ridicule a  politician’s socio-political consciousness); ‘Graphic Contradictions’ (as presented in Sarnath Banerjee’s Rakhaldas Banerjee’s Plot (The Harappa Files) and Gautam Bhatia’s Lie); ‘Destruction of Personae’ (as showcased in Vishwajyoti Ghosh’s portrait of Indira Gandhi- cast as ‘Moon’ in Delhi Calm); ‘Grotesque’; ‘Exaggeration’ (Banerjee’s Hydra), and ‘Revelation’.

Nayar argues, “It is essential to see popular forms and their demotic registers as enabling the culturalization of the public sphere, opening it up to concerns, debates and campaigns about rights, historical wrongs and emancipator possibilities.” (p. 198) Certainly the Indian graphic novel demands a critical literacy and “is poised to become a part of the global popular, taking specific local contexts and conditions of casteism or abuse via a globally hypervisible and widely recognized medium, onto the world readership screens.” (p. 197)

In a highly engaging mode the study artfully moves back and forth between the theme and form, drawing the possibilities that the Indian graphic novel offers. Written in a lucid and accessible style, The Indian Graphic Novel allows its readers easy grasp of the grammar of the subject. The pleasure of reading this text is further enhanced by the illustrations, which are truly eye-catching.  The book is a significant research document, interesting and absorbing, and I believe, it will enable the Indian Graphic Novel to hold a firm footing in Indian Writing in English and also help it in making its way to Indian university classrooms in the near future.


[i] Ankersmit, Frank (2010). “Truth in History and Literature”, Narrative, Vol. 18, No. 1, Ohio State University Press, p. 45. Accessed 16-02-2017.<>

[ii] Haverkamp, Anselm (1993). “The Memory of Pictures: Roland Barthes and Augustine on Photography” Comparative Literature, Vol. 45, No. 3, Duke University Press, p. 258. Accessed: 16-02-2017. <>

[iii] Barthes, Roland (2000). Camera Lucida. Trans. Richard Howard. 1980. Great Britain: Vintage. Print, 91.

 Rajni Singh is Associate Professor of English, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT (ISM), IIT (ISM), Dhanbad, India. ORCID: Email: 


Ideational Meaning of Butonese Foklore: A Systemic Functional Linguistics Study

Gusnawaty Gusnawaty,1 Yuli Yastiana2 & Abdul Hakim Yassi3

1Local Languages Department of Cultural Sciences Studies, Hasanuddin University

Jalan Perintis Kemerdekaan Km. 10 Tamalanrea. Email:

2English Education Study Program of Dayanu, Ikhsanuddin University, Bau-Bau City, Southeast Celebes. Email:

3English Language Department of Cultural Sciences Studies, Hasanuddin University, Jalan Perintis Kemerdekaan Km. 10 Tamalanrea. Email:

 Volume 9, Number 1, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v9n1.33

Received January 10, 2017; Revised April 25, 2017; Accepted April 28, 2017; Published May 7, 2017.


Many studies applied the transitivity on the speech, but a little is known that transitivity could be applied on the folklore, as well. As a descriptive analysis, this paper aims at describing the type of processes, participants, and circumstances; context of the situation; a way of thinking; and ideology in Butonese folklore. The findings revealed firstly that  a material process dominated the data while the frequency was 51,02%. This finding indicates that the Butonese life was oriented with the action which represented the horizontal dimension. The existential process as a process with the lowest percentage,5,31%, indicates the Butonese’s understanding about themselves and their existence as a creature of God. Domination of actor that was 31.62%, is interpreted as Butonese’s character as working people. The Butonese’s principle was to give more than to take. This is proved by the use of recipient element that took  the lowest place which was only 1,89%. The domination of place, circumstance, and element which was 29,83% shows harmony in the life of the Butonese with the nature. While the use of angle, viewpoint, circumstance, and element which was only 0.42%,  indicates the Butonese’s belief toward magical objects or the prophecy in the view of a necromancer. Secondly, situational context covering Butonese folklore describes their belief in reincarnation. Those thoughts indicate that the Butonese have three kinds of point of view: cosmos, communal, and religious. The Butonese’s ideology was oriented with social ideology which taught people to help each other; in Butonese culture this theological ideology which was related to the spirituality of he Butonese in pre-Islamic period it was named pohamba-hamba.

 Keywords: ideational meaning; transitivity; way of thinking; ideology; Butonese folklore

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Using ICT for Learning the Punjabi Language: A Case Study

Sandeep Kaur

Lovely Professional University. Email:

Volume 9, Number 1, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v9n1.32

Received January 19, 2017; Revised April 28, 2017; Accepted April 30, 2017; Published May 7, 2017.


In the context of the relevance of regional languages in modern era, many modern tools have come into circulation. ICT has so for not been introduced in the realm of regional languages properly. It is widely assumed that computer based programs, software and web links do not support students in their learning of Punjabi.  However, this paper offers a contesting yet positive view. This study is designed to prove that laptop, mobile phones, internet- connectivity and projector based learning is very effective for students in learning of Punjabi. This research paper is based on findings of qualitative nature. For this research purpose case studies have been used. Questionnaires are used to collect data. Data are analysed by using descriptive numerical techniques made to express frequency, percentage and mean. On the basis of findings few suggestions are made.

 Keywords:  Pedagogy, Learning, Language, ICT, Skills, technology.

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Professional identity for successful adaptation of students – a participative approach

Galina Akhmetovna Gertsog,1 Viktoriya Valerievna Danilova,2  Dmitry Nikolayevich Korneev,3 Aleksey Viktorovich Savchenkov,4 Nataliya Viktorovna Uvarina5

1, 3, 4, 5Southern Ural state Humanitarian and Pedagogical University, Chelyabinsk, the Russian Federation

2Kostanay State Pedagogical Institute, Kazakhstan. Email:

Volume 9, Number 1, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v9n1.30

Received February 10, 2017; Revised April 16, 2017; Accepted April 27, 2017; Published May 5, 2017.


It is stated that in the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan as well as throughout the world the crisis of personal identity has become a big problem due to globalization in the society and multifaceted participation of people in social processes.  The article deals with the analysis of the concept of professional identity of the student on the basis of participative approach.  Professional identity is viewed as the main criterion and result of the student’s successful adaption to the learning environment, professional and creative activities as well as to changing social and cultural conditions.  The authors advocate for the proposition that the professional identity being the element of social and cultural identity allows students to overcome the state of anxiety, lack of confidence, tension, and dissatisfaction presenting the obstacles to the process of adaption to the changing conditions in the globalised world. The authors assume that   the study of the stated phenomenon of professional identification on the theoretical and empirical levels will allow implementing innovational technologies of coherent cooperation of social and cultural environment of the higher educational institution having impact on the professional growth of students. Professional identity is presented within the framework of both individuality and group.

 Key words: adaptation, participation, globalization, identity, professional identity, socialization, transformation.

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“On the edge of Siberia…”: Russian Old Timers in Some Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries Writings

Julia G. Khazankovich

M. K. Ammosov North-Eastern Federal University, Bld. 42, Kulakovsky St., Yakutsk, 677000, Russia. Email:

Volume 9, Number 1, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v9n1.19

Received February 21, 2017; Revised April 17, 2017; Accepted April 20, 2017; Published May 7, 2017.


Autochthonous world of the Arctic aboriginal peoples is traditionally associated with the indigenous small-numbered peoples of the North – Yukaghirs, Chukchis, Evenks, and other ethnic groups including Russian old-timers (russkoustintsy and pokhodchane). Though being Russian in terms of language and ethnic identity, they are legally incorporated in Yakutia to the same category for being culturally close to the traditional cultures of the indigenous peoples of the North. The relevance of invoking this theme is due to the need for non-ideological interpretation of the problem concerned “Russian world”, which is a cultural and historical concept of the community that is engaged by its adherence to Russia, as well as to the Russian language and culture. Studying the essays by Valentin Rasputin, in particular, his essay “Russkoye Ustye”, as well as the book “Next to the Ice on the Edge of Oecumena: Russkoye Ustye. Return to Roots”, whose compiling editor is an old-timer, Russians’ descendant Igor Chikachyov, enables us to analyse the topic from the perspective of hermeneutic approach. Identifying the historical and aesthetic context of the essay by V. Rasputin and the book of Igor Chikachev about the culture of Russian old-timers of the Arctic allows drawing conclusion that their content was inspired by the search, the acquisition, and the postulation of existential foundations of Russian national mentality. Rasputin’s interest towards the culture of Russkoye Ustye, his meeting with the Russian old-timer Alexey Chikachyov allowed the writer to include in the essay his own ideological codes; to turn spatial and temporal realities into aesthetic coordinates (river, the Indigirka, the village of Russkyoe Ustye, tundra-sendukha).

 ?eywords: Arctic, Yakutia, Siberia, Russian old-timers, V. Rasputin, Chikachyov, essay, the indigenous small-numbered peoples of the North.

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The Normativity of the Russian Language in the Light of Ecological Linguistics and Social Processes in Contemporary Russian Society

E. G. Kulikova & L. A. Brusenskaya

Rostov State University of Economics, 69 Bolshaya Sadovaya Str., Rostov-on-Don, 344002, Russia. Email:

Volume 9, Number 1, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v9n1.31

Received February 10, 2017; Revised March 16, 2017; Accepted March 17, 2017; Published May 5, 2017.


Normative mechanisms in modern Russian society have been intensively changed, and this creates a real problem for the normalization process. The study of this problem refers to the current problems of the norm theory. The article is devoted to the investigation of normativity in the light of ecological linguistics, the origins of normativity and the principles of normativity valuation. Destabilizing factors in the development of the modern Russian language, according to the authors of the article are manipulation, verbal aggression as well as excessive foreign borrowings, slang, which displace native words of the literary language, which have a huge linguistic and cultural potential and convey important ethical concepts. Regulatory processes are being considered from the point of view of language-homeostasis that gives an opportunity to value some phenomenon as constructive or destructive one in terms of ability to survive.

Keywords: language ecology, linguistic ecology, language norm, rhetorical norm, the modern communicative situation, substandard, borrowing

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