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Rules of Language in Rules of the House: Study of Tsering Wangmo Dhompa’s Tibetan English Poetry

Shelly Bhoil, Research Scholar, Barzil

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Abstract

The displacement of Tibetans in exile has also displaced the Tibetan language to some extent among the new generation of Tibetans who are born or educated in exile. However, with the new languages and forms of expression in exile, they are negotiating their culture, identity and aspirations. Tsering Wangmo Dhompa, the first Tibetan woman poet in English to be published in the West, is one of the representative voices of New Tibetan Literature in English (NTLE). Her first book of poems Rules of the House was a finalist for the Asian American Literary Awards in 2003, and brought NTLE to academic attention. This paper is a thematic study of the philosophical and the social aspects of language in the poems from Rules of the House.

The Entangled Vocabulary of Performance

Sruti Bala, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

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This article attempts to map the concept of performance, in terms of its genealogy and the diversity of its application. Such a mapping is an unavoidably reductive step, since the productive force of the concept partly relies on the difficulty of pinning it down to a precise typology or set of definitions. The act of mapping out the concept can itself be interpreted as a kind of performance, as has been argued by Richard Schechner (Performance Studies, 40-42), it is not a neutral or interest-free undertaking, and however persuasive the mapping may be, it may not necessarily simplify the application of the concept, nor resolve the disputes around it. As a “keyword” in the sense of Raymond Williams, performance is an operative concept, “whose meanings are inextricably bound up with the problems [they are] being used to discuss” (Keywords, 13). The concept is not merely descriptive, but programmatic, in that the choice and justification of the uses of the term lead to and imply specific effects. German theatre scholar Erika Fischer-Lichte describes the concept in terms of the range of its semantic shades, ‘Begriffsabschattungen’ (Kulturen des Performativen, 9), arguing that these shades need to be seen in relation to each other in order to trace the histories and contexts of the concepts of performance and the performative. Fischer-Lichte derives the semantic shades of the performative with reference to different disciplinary influences and deployments of the term, such as anthropology, linguistics, language philosophy, technology, economics and aesthetics. A typology and historicisation of the concept is a necessary though not entirely sufficient step in understanding its usage. Even if one makes sense of each of the shades of the term, one does not know how to make sense of the entire range of these shades.

The Semiotics of Violence: Reading Italo Calvino’s The Castle of Crossed Destinies

Debamitra Kar, Women’s College, Calcutta, India

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Abstract

This paper attempts a reading of Italo Calvino’s novel, The Castle of Crossed Destinies (1969) from a postmodern perspective. The novel has always been seen as structuralist experimentation, particularly because it was written at a time when Calvino was associated with the OULIPO, the group of the French philosophers like Claude Levi-Strauss, Roland Barthes and others. The paper argues that the simultaneous reading of the words in the text and pictures in the margin, challenges the very practice and method of reading. The novel suggests that it can be read as a card game, a game that accentuates deferral and plurality of meaning. These conflicting readings create the semiotics of violence, which again is reflected in the theme of the stories. The paper cites example of three stories which show that the violence of language is codified as the violence of the feminine on the masculine, arguing that the feminine challenges the rules, laws, and structures of language as well as life and destroys things that adheres to any strict binary form. The conflict between the rule of the Father and the lawlessness of the Mother leads to no higher synthesis—it ends in violence that refuses all routes of communication or meaning.

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