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The Woman with the Still Camera: Photographs in Virginia Woolf’s Fiction

Shinjini Chattopadhyay, Jadavpur University, India

Abstract

The advent of photography and the emergence of Modernism in literature are imbued with an essence of breaking away from the past. Photography shares with the Modernist aesthetic a similar mode of appropriating reality. As the photographs capture within the frames a particular moment in the flow of time and establish a distinct ethic of perception, Modernist literature also fixes the focus on certain crucial moments in the life of an individual (for example a day in the life of Leopold Bloom or Mrs. Dalloway) and presents a holistic view of reality in its essential fragments. The incorporation of photographs within the Modernist aesthetic marks the emergence of a new mode of dialogue between fiction and reality. The paper attempts to investigate this mode of dialogue by investigating the interaction among reality, photographs and literature in the works of one of the proponents of Modernism, Virginia Woolf.

The very earliest years of Modernism saw the emergence of a particular technological innovation, photography. Even in its infancy, with the Calotype and the Daguerreotype, photography showed potential for forever transforming the way of perceiving reality. It amazed people how photographs were able to capture every minute detail of a scene and for the first time it was felt that the whole world could be captured within frames. The invention of photography marks a distinct disjunction from the time when photography was not invented:

“The very existence of a modern period, broken away from the time before, is to some extent the creation of photography, which has made all time since the 1840s simultaneously available in a way that makes the years before seem that much more remote.” (North 3)

The same spirit of rupture, which is present in the history of the advent of photography, can also be recognized in the attitude that Modernist literature had assumed towards its immediate predecessors by advocating the implementation of highly conscious artifice, revolutionary usage of linguistic forms and other radical literary techniques. Having identified this similarity Modernist writers were soon interested in this new form of technology and photography gained a turbulent admission in the world of art amidst positive and negative reactions. Charles Baudelaire condemned photography for its unimaginative realist mode (North 14). Ezra Pound seems to share Baudelaire’s disdain for photography and voices his contempt for cinema as well. But his experiments with the vortoscope affirm that despite his attempts he was not able to keep photography entirely out of his artistic endeavours (North 27). On the other hand, distinct photographic qualities became apparent in the writings of James Joyce and Gertrude Stein. Joyce, inspired by the thriving cinematic climate of Trieste, opened the first movie-house in Dublin, the ‘Cinematograph Volta’, in 1909. In 1926 Virginia Woolf “wrote the first British essay on avant-garde cinema.”…Access Full Text of the Article


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.

Text, Reader and Metaphor: Exploring Links between ‘Disparate Domains’ in Some Novels of Charles Dickens

Ralla Guha Niyogi, Basanti Devi College, Kolkata

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Abstract

One of the literary devices often used in a creative work is the metaphor. In my paper, I aim to analyze the reasons why a novel uses metaphors at all, the importance of the reader’s response to the text and how the use of metaphorical language creates a specific world within the text, thereby imparting a special significance to the novel as an artistic whole. I have referred to a few novels of Charles Dickens, relating them to the phenomenological theory of art and the Reader – Response Theory. I have further attempted to explore linguistic views and theories by Roman Ingarden, Wolfgang Iser, Jauss and Saussure among others, relating their views to the use of metaphor in literary works in general, and to some of Dickens’s novels in particular. I have shown how Dickens relates the metaphor of the machine as signifying mechanical human responses in the ‘disparate domains’ of the school and the home. Indeed, the metaphor serves as a bridge between the text and the reader, linking hitherto unrelated facts and endowing a literary work with an evocative quality that enhances its artistic value.

‘All the world’s a stage and I’m a genius in it’: Creative Benefits of Writers’ Identification with the Figure of Artistic Genius

Claudia Chibici-Revneanu, ENES, UNAM León in Mexico

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Abstract

This paper focuses on the romantic notion of artistic genius and its operations as a kind of theatrical script functionally guiding many writers’ lives and approaches to their creations. In recent years, the concept has been justly deconstructed as heavily gendered and providing an inadequate representation of actual creative processes. Nevertheless, what these studies of genius have often overlooked are the manifold functions the genius ideology has traditionally fulfilled for artists and society at large. To illustrate this, the article focuses specifically on the complex and often beneficial interaction arising from authors’ self-identification with the genius role and their negotiation of the creative process. A plea will be made for taking seriously the limitations of the genius script while at the same time trying to save-guard its valuable influence on creative writers’ artistic performance.

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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Abstract

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.

Signifying The Self: Intersections of Class, Caste and Gender in Rabindranath Tagore’s Dance Drama Chandalika (1938)

Sutapa Chaudhuri, Dr. Kanailal Bhattacharyya College, Howrah, India

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Abstract

Much has been said about the way Tagore views his women in his poems, essays, novels and drama. Yet it is the dance dramas of Tagore, a genre quite unique in his time and milieu, which portray the radical nature of Tagore’s conception of women and the maturation of their selfhood. The dance dramas illustrate Tagore’s bold and perceptive experimentation with various literary forms and techniques and the radical nature of his ideological orientation. Among the dance dramas of Tagore, Chandalika has a special place as it foregrounds the theme of female desire in an untouchable girl, a tabooed subject in his times, indeed even now in Bengali writings. This paper tries to show how Tagore uses the nuances of the dance form to showcase the intersections of caste, class and gender as well as the evolution of selfhood in Prakriti, the Chandal girl.

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