Book Review: In the Heart of the Beat the Poetry of Rap by Alexs Pate

The Scarecrow Press, Inc.

Pub Date: Jan 2010

Hardcover, 176 pages

Price: $24.95

ISBN: 0-8108-6008-2

ISBN-13: 978-0-8108-6008-7

Series:  African American Cultural Theory and Heritage

Review by

Pragna Paramita Mondal, Victoria College, Kolkata

Alexs Pate’s In the Heart of the Beat begins with an anecdote from his childhood days in North Philadelphia. Johnny, a boy in the neighborhood who survived a car accident, was subsequently involved in a conscious process of reorientation of speech as a means to counter his disability. What the ‘Professor’ (Johnny) and rappers share in common, however, is their sense of exigency in speech and their need to articulate and prioritize their distinct worldviews from a position of marginality and oppression. In fact, orality has been one of the defining features in Black cultural history, one that has sustained African American sanity and self-expression. In this book Pate, therefore, makes an attempt at disengaging the poetry of rap from the claims of music and hip hop beats and validates the ‘speech’ of rap by subverting the conventional notions that determine its popular consumption.

Science, Love, Literature: John Donne and Constance Naden

Mahitosh Mandal, Ramakrishna Mission Residential College, Kolkata, India


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.

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

José Ruiz Mas, University of Granada, Spain

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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).

“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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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.

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 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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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.

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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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.

On Reading ‘Streer Patra’, Mrinal’s Letter to Her husband

Shyamali Dasgupta, Seth Soorajmull Jalan Girl’s College, India

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Tagore’s famous short story, ‘Streer Patra’, highlights the suffering, ignominy and neglect that women have to face in a male dominated society. Although set in late nineteenth century Kolkata, Tagore’s story has relevance for the discerning reader even today. It dwells upon issues like child-marriage, commoditization of women, the appalling state of woman-and-child healthcare, high rates of infant mortality as well as the marginalisation of economically dependent women. The story also exposes the terrible plight of orphaned, homeless girls without any means, like Bindu whose way to survive was to accept servitude and total humiliation, from which death becomes the only form of escape. Mrinal’s final rejection of her marital state and decision of leaving her husband is a lone woman’s act of defiance against the relentless subjugation of women in society.

Unheeded Caveats: Examining Pax Americana in the Light of Tagore’s Nationalism

Abin Chakraborty, University of Calcutta, India

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Rabindranath Tagore’s much discussed opposition to nationalism has often been seen as a source of consternating confusion which not only invoked the ire of many contemporary nationalists who interpreted his vision as one of helpless inaction as well as by certain contemporary critics who have considered Nationalism to be a disorienting product of “impassioned myth-making” which falls within the tradition of English liberalism[1]. This paper seeks to analyse Nationalism, as well as other related texts, in a different light, by comparing Tagore’s assessment of ‘Nation’ and Nationalism in the West’, with both the Communist Manifesto, as well as Lenin’s Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism in order to reveal how Tagore’s explorations constitute a sustained and scathing critique of capitalism, as manifested through the European bourgeois nation-state which is also relevant for this present age of U.S. imperialism and its consequences as many of the crises unfolding around us were presaged by Tagore’s unheeded caveats. The paper also suggests that whatever post-imperial vision we may imagine for our future, they must always be based on those values that Tagore championed throughout his life and which have often been dismissed as sentimental naivety.

Aesthetics of Indian Feminist Theatre

Anita Singh, Banaras Hindu University, Uttar Pradesh, India


This study addresses a number of Indian feminist plays (both by men and women) that were written and performed in the last century and early years in this century. The paper focus specifically on Indian theatre because of its long established theatre tradition that goes back to 1st century B.C. Ironically in such a country there were hardly any women dramatist to speak of before 19th century. At the core, the belief of a Feminist theatre is in the efficacy of theatre as a tool for conscientization, for critiquing social disparities and for self exploration and expression. Feminist theatre is a source of empowerment; it enables women to speak out. It is at the intersection of art, activism and social relevance and sees theatre as an instrument of real change in women’s lives.  It is an exploration of women’s own unique idiom, their own form, their language and ways of communication. It is a challenge to the established notions of theatre.

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