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Stillness of star-less nights: Afghan Women’s Poetry of Exile

Rumpa Das, Maheshtala College, South 24 Parganas, India

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 Abstract

Contemporary English poetry by Afghan women presents a remarkable reading experience. Critical explorations, at ease with post-colonial conditions, minority solitude and feminist readings, have largely remained inimical to the unique, yet chequered history that women poets such as Zohra Saed, Sahar Muradi, Sara Hakeem, Fatana Jahangir Ahrary, Fevziye Rahzigar Barlas and Donia Gobar document in their works. Most of them write in their native Dari and Pushtun languages as well as in English and often their English compositions have smatterings of their native tongues. Even though individual experiences differ, these women delve into the collective memory of oppression, pain and unrest to give vent to their feelings, and seek to reach out towards a sorority of shared angst. This paper seeks to explore the complex cultural contexts which have given birth to Afghan women’s poetry in exile.

The Poetics of John Ashbery

Gargi Bhattacharya, Rabindra Bharati University

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Abstract

John Ashbery (1927- ) takes the postmodernist polysemy of meaning in interpreting a work of art and the polyphony of styles in composing as his forte. He questions the various linguistic codes and makes us aware of the artificiality of the language. All political, ethical and aesthetic imperatives are rhetorical constructs. The writer uses language to persuade the reader to accept the formulated truth and he intervenes in the process of perception by his/her politics of representation. Though his iconoclastic approach towards writing and individuality of style has kept him aloof from mainstream academic syllabi, yet he has now become a prominent figure in Contemporary American Literature. It is interesting to note how Ashbery’s poetry revives the Romantic sensibility while applying the digitalized methods and the postmodern syndromes of immediacy, indeterminacy, disjunctive syntax, open-ended and multiplicity of interpretations. This paper explores the aesthetics of John Ashbery’s poetry.

Science, Love, Literature: John Donne and Constance Naden

Mahitosh Mandal, Ramakrishna Mission Residential College, Kolkata, India

Abstract

This paper attempts to understand how science is blended with literature in John Donne and Constance Naden, how the blending is a patterned one, and how a new poetics is developed out of this. Along with this is analyzed how literature can become a valuable document for science, especially for recording its reception. Consequently, both the socio-cultural emergence and development of science and literature are considered.

A Science Fiction in a Gothic Scaffold: a Reading of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Zinia Mitra, Nakshalbari College, Darjeeling, India

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Abstract

Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus is a unique blend of two genres: Gothic and science fiction. While it follows the gothic convention of tale within tales, its epistolary framework and keeps intact its unrestrained lengthy articulations, it explores at the same time the innovative marvels of modern science. The fire that Prometheus stole form Zeus to help mankind is ingeniously   replaced in the novel by the spark of electricity. The novel also puts to question some traditional social assumptions.

The Spectacle of Science: the Art of Illusion in Prints of the French Revolution

Claire Trévien, University of Warwick, UK

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Abstract

In this article, I will discuss prints from the French Revolution that utilize scientific instruments as political metaphors. France’s fascination with science during the Enlightenment has been well documented, notably by Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent and Christine Blondel in their recent investigation of its uses as a popular form of entertainment. Whether it was seen as an ally or a foe, the spectacle of science attracted Revolutionary artists. This pull reveals not only an understanding of scientific material thanks to the groundwork of the Enlightenment, but also a need to reposition science within a Revolutionary context. What the prints have in common is ‘spectacle’ in the sense that they are pre-occupied with the idea of illusion, not just as a negative act of deception but as a creative and potentially empowering process, allowing the viewer to see beyond reality into a brighter future.

A Feminist Aesthetics of Nature

Tegan Zimmerman, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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Abstract

This article examines the relatively unstudied field of the aesthetics of nature from a feminist perspective. Currently a feminist aesthetics of nature does not exist in scholarship, though I argue in our age of eco-crisis this is necessary. I explore what this feminist approach might entail by discussing three essential elements to the current masculinist study of nature: 1) the role of the subject or observer, 2) method of appreciation, and 3) appropriate object for appreciation. By focusing on the recent impasse in feminism, between essentialism and non-essentialism, this paper looks at how each side of the debate would approach these above three topics, and what future paths feminism might take in creating an adequate study of the aesthetics of nature. 

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).

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.

The “Politically Correct Memsahib”: Performing Englishness in Select Anglo-Indian Advice Manuals

S. Vimala, M.G.R. College, Hosur, India

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Abstract

Examining select Anglo-Indian advice manuals written after the Indian Mutiny in 1857and during the ‘high imperialism’ period of the British Raj, the essay proposes that this cultural artefact served the purpose of constructing and naturalizing the English Memsahibs’ gendered racial identity. By reiterating the performance of gender, class and race imperatives to construct a unique identity prerequisite for the Anglo-Indian community as well as the Indian colony, these texts aimed at the crystallization of this identity that will strengthen the idea of the British Raj. Such reiteration- apart from revealing the imperial anxiety of the subversion of the Memsahib identity- were useful to caution the English women new to the colonial environment.  Reading these Anglo-Indian advice manuals produced for the consumption of the Anglo-Indian community, what the essay further proposes is that the performance of gendered-racial identity of the English women in India constituted not only the governance of their bodies and the Anglo-Indian spaces, but also their management of travel and material consumption including food.  Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble and Bodies That Matter provide useful insights to study the performance of the “politically correct Memsahib” identity and its attendant relation to the imagining of the homogenous British Raj.   

The Sitala Saga: a Case of Cultural Integration in the Folk Tradition of West Bengal

Proggya Ghatak, National Institute of Social Work and Social Science, Bhubaneswar

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Abstract

The paper discusses religious narratives about annual deity of Savara of South Bengal that can be conceptualized as myths, legends, and memories according to folklore of ‘Sitalamangal’. This goddess is primarily associated with smallpox, yet she is occasionally given other roles and powers, including those as the protector of children and the giver of good fortune. Her role also incorporated other elements of the period, viz. incorporation of deities from Brahmanical religion, incorporation of motifs and symbols from it, incorporating tribal, Tantric-goddess tradition to its fold as well as developed an elaborate ritual structure. The Sitala worship has attached the social fabric of Savara society and maintaining social solidarity.

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