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Charles Dickens’s A Child’s History of England and Spain

José Ruiz Mas, University of Granada, Spain

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Abstract

In this article I endeavour to analyse the image of relevant Spanish historical figures such as King Pedro I, Catherine of Aragon, Christopher Columbus, Philip II, the Spanish Armada and other pro-Spanish English characters such as Mary I, as depicted in Charles Dickens’ A Child’s History of England (1851-53). In his overtly didactic attempt to convey a specific image of the legendary antagonism existing between Spain and England to his contemporary English children and youngsters through this peculiar history book, Dickens amply shows his prejudiced view of Spanish history and his overtly patriotic description of England’s history. Proof of the relevance and the persistence of Dickens’ anti-Spanish and anti-Catholic attitude that prevailed in English society throughout the second half of the 19th century is that C. R. L. Fletcher and Rudyard Kipling insist on similar ideas of Anglo-Spanish relations in A School History of England (1911).

Tipu Sultan and the Politics of Representation in Three 19th Century English novels

Ayusman Chakraborty, Jadavpur University, India

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 Abstract

Tipu Sultan was the ruler of the native state of Mysore. His fierce opposition to British rule in India earned him unrivalled notoriety in England. Colonial writings usually portray him as a cruel tyrant who tortured Indians and Englishmen alike. This article studies the representation of Tipu Sultan in three nineteenth century English novels – The Surgeon’s Daughter by Sir Walter Scott, Tippoo Sultaun: A Tale of the Mysore Wars by Captain Meadows Taylor, and The Tiger of Mysore by G. A. Henty . In these works, Tipu is painted in an extremely unfavourable light. Arguing that the politics of imperialism influences such representations, this article tries to show how the depiction of Tipu as a monstrous villain served to justify British rule in India. These novels seem to suggest that the British deserve credit for rescuing Indians from such egregious villain. The article also focuses on politicization of Tipu’s dead body. Colonial art and literature constantly return to the scene where Tipu’s body is discovered by his enemies. This article argues that colonial imagination converts Tipu’s corpse to a ‘grisly trophy’ which becomes a sign of British triumph over Oriental despotism.

Challenging Enlightenment Paradigms: Responses of Benjamin and Tagore

Debmalya Das, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, India

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Abstract

European Enlightenment in the eighteenth century marked a paradigm shift in its perception of time and in the practice of historiography. The idea of linear/teleological classification of time and the notion of empirical documentation of history was combined with the notion of progress, which saw civilization as a development from the state of barbarity to that of refinement. The appropriation of this progressivist ideology by the powerful in society has served as a tool of domination. Walter Benjamin’s “Theses on the Philosophy of History” (1940) and Rabindranath Tagore’s “Crisis in Civilization”(1941), written in the wake of World War II, provide us with two radical perspectives which challenge such progressivist assumptions. Expanding the critical span into their other writings, this paper seeks to historicize the two figures in their varied positions of marginality as two counter-Enlightenment ideologues, writing at a moment of human history when the idea of being civilized was continually threatened by manifestations of barbarity in the socio-political/cultural dynamics of the entire world.

Jatiyo Itihaas vis-à-vis Manab Itihaas: Tagore the Historiographer

Sajalkumar Bhattacharya, Ramakrishna Mission Residential College, West Bengal, India

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Abstract

Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay wrote Krishnacaritra (1858) with an aim to counter the bias of the western scholars in the history of India recorded by them. But Rabindranath Tagore’s review article of Krishnacaritra is even more interesting, for it provides us with fascinating insights into Tagore’s views on history and historiography. These views are not only more modern and rational than those of Bankim, but they also appear to anticipate the takes of many sociologists, historians and novelists of today. This article attempts to analyse some of Tagore’s review articles as well as some of his essays to examine this alternative method of historiography proposed by him.

Metaphysics and Representation: Derrida’s Views on the Truth in Painting

 Chung Chin-Yi, National University of Singapore

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Abstract

This paper discusses Derrida’s deconstruction of both representational and post-representational thinking, in pointing out that they both assume a realist or representational paradigm as its assumption. It examines Rosemary Hawker’s contention that Derrida’s argument is one fundamentally concerned about the inseparability of idiom and content, and argues that indeed this was an accurate reading; Heidegger and Shapiro’s fallacy as interpreted by Derrida is precisely the trap of metaphysical and representational thinking in assuming that content is separable from form. It also examines Marcellini and Haber’s arguments that Derrida’s arguments are about the failure of the representational paradigm of thinking as there is always a surplus and excess of meaning because each rendering differs from its origin. Finally it finds out that there is no such thing as pure representation as art always renders its object with a difference, or differance.

Subjectivity in Art History and Art Criticism

Eleni Gemtou,University of Athens, Greece

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Abstract

Art history and art criticism belong in a wider sense to the humanities, whose aim is the interpretation and comprehension of human actions and intellectual work.  Both fields draw their basic methodological tools from the hermeneutical tradition.  Their central analytic category is comprehension (verstehen) that seeks to ascribe meaning to the spirit of these actions, or to works of art.  The intention of the art historian is to analyse and integrate artistic works in a wider intellectual and social frame, while the aim of the art critic is to examine the values connected with artistic creations.  Their roles are not always distinguishable, as analysis, comprehension, interpretation and evaluation often co-exist in the studies of both fields.  However, the approach of the art historian should have a scientific character, aiming at objectively valid formulations, while the critic should give equal consideration to subjective factors, acknowledging international artistic values, often taking on the additional role of philosopher or theorist of art. In my paper I examine the varying degrees of subjectivity in the approaches of art historians and art critics.  I give emphasis to the methods and language both use, while I approach the categories of artistic values (aesthetic, moral, cognitive) according to their subjective usage, but also to their role in the comprehension and evaluation of art.  My conviction is that art history and art criticism are complementary activities, as the former creates fertile conditions for the latter’s complete and essential evaluations.

Perspective: Exile Literature and the Diasporic Indian Writer

Amit Shankar Saha, Calcutta University, West Bengal, India

Abstract
The essay takes a holistic view of the word “exile” to encompass a range of displaced existence. It illustrates through John Simpson’s The Oxford Book of Exile the various forms of exiles. The essay then goes on to show that diasporic Indian writing is in some sense also a part of exile literature. By exemplifying writers both from the old Indian diaspora of indentured labourers and the modern Indian diaspora of IT technocrats, it shows that despite peculiarities there is an inherent exilic state in all dislocated lives whether it be voluntary or involuntary migration. More importantly, a broad survey of the contributions of the second generation of the modern Indian diaspora in the field of Indian writing in English depict certain shift in concerns in comparison to the previous generation and thereby it widens the field of exile literature.

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