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Exploring Dickens through a Director’s Lens: a Study of the Cinematic Presentation of A Tale of Two Cities

Gatha Sharma, Shiv Nadar University, Gautam Budh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh

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 An interesting thing always noticed by avid movie-buffs is when one watches a movie made on a novel, automatically one starts identifying characters of the novel with the actors who have played those characters. Actors give new identity and life to the characters hitherto without any proper face or shape, enclosed in the black alphabets and yellow pages of the books. This paper is an attempt to see how the complex art of Charles Dickens find expression through cinema. A Tale of Two Cities is one of the two historical novels written by Charles Dickens. Attempting historical fiction is a tough task. Author has to shift back mentally to those ages and keep track of not only historical but also political, social, economic and spiritual environment of those times. Historically, A Tale of Two Cities has tried to capture extremely volatile years of French Revolution. Impacts of French Revolution were far-reaching and had been felt for many decades afterwards by Europe and later became an inspiration to many freedom movements in Asia, Africa and Russia. Praise to Charles Dickens for attempting such a story and also to all those directors who tried to portray such a razzmatazz on the big screen.

Theatre(s) of Resistance: Those ‘Other’ Performances in Simulation

Sambuddha Ghosh, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India

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 Abstract

The word “performance”[i] is one laden with immense—if sometimes only theoretical or even metaphysical—possibilities which stretch the known boundaries of conventional representation. “Performances” can be mimetic, and in certain cases, ones based on simulation. Ideologically motivated theatre for activism is too common for our own times, but the ramifications of present global power relations demand ephemeral forms of protest, opposition and self-expression. This article attempts to present a relatively uncharted terrain of performance studies: the Virtual Theatre, its Siblings and undertakes an enquiry into the ethos of simulated performance and the implications thereof that challenge essentialist conceptions of the Self and Personality. In addition, it also tries to unearth the hidden possibilities of such types of performance which might prove to be influential forms of ‘affirmative action’ for the future,  in trying to arrest the unrestricted growth of forces that assist globalization and its resulting cultural legacy.

What is Performance Studies?

Richard Schechner, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University

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Because performance studies is so broad-ranging and open to new possibilities, no one can actually grasp its totality or press all its vastness and variety into a single writing book. My points of departure are my own teaching, research, artistic practice, and life experiences.

Performances are actions. As a discipline, performance studies takes actions very seriously in four ways. First, behavior is the “object of study” of performance studies. Although performance studies scholars use the “archive” extensively – what’s in books, photographs, the archaeological record, historical remains, etc. – their dedicated focus is on the “repertory,” namely, what people do in the activity of their doing it. Second, artistic practice is a big part of the performance studies project. A number of performance studies scholars are also practicing artists working in the avant-garde, in community-based performance, and elsewhere; others have mastered a variety of non-Western and Western traditional forms. The relationship between studying performance and doing performance is integral. Third, fieldwork as “participant observation” is a much-prized method adapted from anthropology and put to new uses. In anthropological fieldwork, participant observation is a way of learning about cultures other than that of the field-worker. In anthropology, for the most part, the “home culture” is Western, the “other” non-Western. But in performance studies, the “other” may be a part of one’s own culture (non-Western or Western), or even an aspect of one’s own behavior. That positions the performance studies fieldworker at a Brechtian distance, allowing for criticism, irony, and personal commentary as well as sympathetic participation. In this active way, one performs fieldwork. Taking a critical distance from the objects of study and self invites revision, the recognition that social circumstances– including knowledge itself – are not fixed, but subject to the “rehearsal process” of testing and revising. Fourth, it follows that performance studies is actively involved in social practices and advocacies. Many who practice performance studies do not aspire to ideological neutrality. In fact, a basic theoretical claim is that no approach or position is “neutral”. There is no such thing as unbiased. The challenge is to become as aware as possible of one’s own stances in relation to the positions of others – and then take steps to maintain or change positions.

“Humans as Voices of God and Tradition?” Rethinking the Subjugation of the African Woman in Mariama Ba’s So Long a Letter

Stephen O. Solanke, Ajayi Crowther University, Nigeria

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Abstract

Over the eons, man has posed asspeaking for and on behalf of God and Tradition. His assumed positions on social issues, therefore, are regarded as infallibles. Polygamy as one of the issues is advantageous for male. This paper discusses, through a sociological consideration of Mariama Ba’s So Long a Letter and the effects of polygamy, that a positive consideration be cast on the issue in the modern African world. Women need not be abandoned, children need not be cast aside, and men’s lives need not become loveless as much as the society need not be shackled with frustrated marriages and destroyed lives. The African world, faced with the negative effects laid on the table in this paper, should sociologically re-adjust itself into the modern world of love-giving, acceptance and sharing.

Revolutionary Roads: Violence versus Non-violence: A comparative study of The Battle of Algiers (1966) and Gandhi (1982)

Vikash Kumar

Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi India

Considered one of the finest realist films ever which reconstitutes perfectly the revolution by the people of Algeria, The Battle of Algiers (Pontecorvo Gillo, La Bataille d’Alger, Igor Film/ Casbah Films, Italy, 1966) presents us an image of a world of anger and agony. The making of The Battle of Algiers possibly heralded the birth of Algerian cinema as it was the first film made just after their independence. In fact, this cinematographic masterpiece reveals to its viewers a plethora of images depicting the Algerian people in their quest for independence. Made in the year 1966, by Gillo Pontecorvo and based on the personal experiences of Yacef Saddi, Military Head of the FLN (Front de liberation National/ National Liberation Front) who also collaborated on the script of the film, The Battle of Algiers, interestingly, was directed with the aim to highlight the invisible aspects and unheard voices of this violent revolution by the people of Algeria as well as the counter measures taken by the colonial power to suppress the movement.

Gender Dialectics of Yoruba Drum Poetry

Azeez Akinwumi SESAN, Al -Hikmah University, Ilorin

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Abstract

The analytical and dialectical nature of Yoruba oral art with the inclusion of drum poetry facilitates its unending discourses. In the past and contemporary African society, gender issues have attracted critical attentions of scholars and researchers using different subject areas. In the past Yoruba societies, women were acknowledged as the performers of oral art, particularly in the genres of poetry and prose but with the exemption of drum poetry. It is on this understanding that this paper examines the impact of gender dialectics on the discourse of Yoruba drum poetry. The paper draws inferences from Ifa literary corpus for mythico-historical origin of Yoruba drums. Data are gathered through primary source (field investigations) and secondary sources (books, journals and periodicals).As a verbal art, Yoruba drum poetry has some masculinity attached to it and until recently, women are passive participants in drum poetry performance. It is established that gender dialectics has made a score as there are now the emergence of female professional drummers.

Mary Magdalene or Virgin Mary: Nationalism and the Concept of Woman in Bessie Head’s A Question of Power

Sayyed Rahim Moosavinia, Seyyede Maryam Hosseini & Shahid Chamran

University of Ahvaz, Iran

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Abstract

Foucault believes that people live in systems of power different from one era to another. He applies the term “power archives” to demonstrate that those inside an institute cannot be aware of the subtle ways of power imposed on them. Likewise, it would be oversimplification to think that with the apparent end of colonialism, the colonized subjects will be free from subjugating contexts. In the case of women, the situation is even worse since they are repressed by both the colonialist and the post-colonial nationalist. “Under the anxiety of the influence” of the former colonial father, the once-belittled colonial men turn to support their females in terms of their body and soul, and in this way define them inside a strictly demarcated roles of good wives, mothers, and households or vicious prostitutes. Bessie Head in her semi-autobiographical masterpiece subtly examines this idea and through her coloured protagonist, Elizabeth, attempts to re-deconstruct this notion.

In the World of Men: Tagore’s Arrival in the Spiritual Domain of Nationalism

Banibrata Goswami, Panchakot Mahavidyalaya, India

Abstract

Rabindranath Tagore was born in a family which, on one hand, inherited a legacy of rich Indian culture, and on the other, did not hesitate to welcome the modernism, freshly arrived from Europe through waves of Enlightenment. He was sent early to England to imbibe the gifts of modern science and rationalism that could lead him to a standard and secured career. But even though the discipline of work, love for liberalism and quest after scientific truth and technological perfection there impressed him much, in its over all effect the West’s efforts of de-humanization disappointed Tagore and disillusioned him as well. This led him finally to the realization and reconstruction of the motherland that is India. He came to meet the common man and his everyday sorrows and tears in rural Bengal, in Silaidaha, Patisar and Sazadpur where he was given the duty to look after the family estate. The raw and rough smell of the soil, the whirl of the waves in river Padma, the play of seasons on the strings of nature lent him a unique insight. He learnt to weave his words offering a perfect slide show of mutual reciprocation of man and nature, accompanied by a hitherto unheard melody of folk tune that glorifies the struggles of that life and thereby consolidating it gradually to a consciousness out of which a nation is born. The present essay intends to seek and understand the secrets of that story, which, though lacking miserably in sound and fury, strives towards a steady self emergence and emancipation paving the way for political freedom.

Biafra and the Aesthetics of Closure in the Third Generation Nigerian Novel

Madhu Krishnan, the University of Nottingham, UK

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 Abstract

This paper examines the role of closure, or the lack thereof, in four contemporary Nigerian novels. Representative of the third wave of Nigerian literature, these narratives each deals with themes of trauma, identity and community affiliation in postcolonial Africa, highlighting the fractured and displaced nation-state as the site of a radical aporia between individual fulfillment and communal harmony. This article postulates that the lack of closure on the level of thematic content and characterization in these novels is an aesthetic condition of third generation Nigerian literature as it strives to narrativize the openness and undecidability of the postcolonial condition and the fundamental instability of history and identity-formation in contemporary Africa.

Ideological Mutations in the Drama of Bode Sowande

Ameh Dennis Akoh, Osun State University, Nigeria

 Abstract

The question of a convenient marriage of ideology and aesthetics in Nigerian drama has occupied the minds of critics for a long time – for some dramatists ideology has no place in their works and thus insist rather on social vision; however, while it is, again, long been established that there is no way of escape from ideology in our time, the concern then is on the ideological mutations in a dramatist and his work over time. This paper engages the works of one of Nigeria’s foremost playwrights, Bode Sowande. The paper discusses the different phases of the ideological mutations of the playwright from spiritual and revolutionary nationalism to what the drama is christened for specific purposes.1 The paper argues that the writer’s sensibilities are shaped by the changing fortunes of the society and the current aesthetic and philosophic tangentiality in the African dramatic and theatrical arts of English expression (Uji 44).

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