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“Murdering the Innocents”: The Dystopian City and the Circus as Corollary in Charles Dickens’ Hard Times and Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus

Stacey Balkan, Bergen Community College, New Jersey

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Abstract

There is perhaps no novel that offers a more scathing commentary on nineteenth century conceptions of leisure and industry than Charles Dickens’ Hard Times. Dickens’ description of Coketown, nay Preston, is a caricature of utilitarian uniformity and the commodification of workers in post-industrial England. Ostensibly Marxist in its depictions of those men of “facts and calculations”—clearly Jeremy Bentham and Adam Smith—Dickens offers a community of “hands” covered in soot toiling under the vulgar Bounderby.  Counterpoised against these laborers is the whimsical cast of Mr. Sleary’s circus. Using the circus as a corollary to the dystopian city, he anticipates Angela Carter’s Neovictorian romp through London, St. Petersberg, and Siberia wherein the characters of Nights at the Circus likewise offer an antidote to similarly oppressive prescriptions for economic prosperity.

Hard Times as a Dickensian Dystopia

P. Prayer Elmo Raj, Karunya University Coimbatore

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Abstract

Hard Times is a dystopia. Hard Times investigates and launches the deplorable Victorian industrial society through the presentation of its setting and characters. The society which the Hard Times explores is one characterized by poverty, denial and oppression. Freedom and happiness were established by the political and economic elites. Right to think and right to fancy was determined by the dominant. The prevalent Utilitarian educational philosophy created havoc in the lives of pupils who were prepared to work in the factories. This paper is an attempt to map the dystopian account of Victorian industrial society as portrayed by Charles Dickens in the Hard Times.

Cooking as Performance: Negotiating Art and Authenticity in Ratatouille

Poushali Chakraborty, Rabindra Bharati University, India

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Abstract

 Be it quotidian or haute cuisine, ‘Caviar’ or ‘Quesadillas’, cooking has always been a performance, in its experimentation to create an “appetite appeal” (Carafoli 146). This paper, through an analysis of Brad Bird and Jan Pinkava’s directed, Disney animation Ratatouille, explores the engaging analogies and correlations between the processes in cooking and performance. The stage is being replaced by a single performative site – the kitchen, which becomes the theatre of action, producing the ultimate ‘orgy of olfaction’ (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 7). A direct communication is shown to be re-established between the spectator and the spectacle, between the actor and the spectator, from the fact that the spectator is invited to share the secret of the kitchen, and ultimately, is, not only affected by the sight, feel, taste, or smell of the final performative outcome – the food, but also impacted upon by the identity of the performer – Remy, the ‘tiny chef’ – nothing but a provincial rat.

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.   

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.

Drama and the Politics of Climate Change in Nigeria: A Critical Appraisal of Greg Mbajiorgu’s Wake Up Everyone

Norbert Oyibo Eze, University Of Nigeria, Nsukka

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 Abstract

Johnny Igbonekwu observes that ‘an obvious primal instinctive human quest” is to “conquer the world” but he equally notes that man has not been able to achieve this goal, in spite of his “formidable intellectual assaults on the multifarious stupendous mysteries of the world” (Talk About Man 1). The quest for all manner of domination-economic, political, territorial, and spatial, etc, has driven man into invention and mindless application of technology which in choking nature, cause it to frequently retaliate through global warming, tsunami, landslide, erosion, and flooding of different dimensions. The constant decimation of human lives, businesses, buildings, and municipal services as well as the emergence of perturbing diseases owing to these palpable effects of natural disaster, force the issue of climate change to occupy a significant place in the world of environmental studies and research. This paper seeks to explain the place of drama in tackling the problem of climate change through a detailed analysis and interpretation of Greg Mbajiorgu’s Wake Up Everyone considered to be a giant impact assessment study and provocative wake-up call.

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.

Modernist Arabic Literature and the Clash of Civilizations Discourse

Saddik M. Gouhar, United Arab Emirates University

Abstract

The paper explores the incorporation of western and Christian traditions, assimilated from western culture and literature in contemporary texts, written by Muslim/Arab poets and addressed to predominantly Muslim communities, in order to disrupt the clash of civilizations narrative and underline the attempt of post WWII Arab poets, led by Badr Shaker Al-Sayyab, to be engaged into trans-cultural dialogues with western masters particularly T.S Eliot.  The paper argues that Arab poets, from ex-colonized countries, attempted to build bridges with the West   by construction of a poetics that takes as its core the cultural/religious traditions of the European colonizers.  Unlike writers from the ex-colonies, in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and the West Indies who reconstruct western texts in order to subvert them, post WWII Arab poets integrated the religious heritage of what is traditionally categorized as an alien/hostile civilization into the Arab-Islamic literary canon.

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