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Panel Proposal for Group Section for ICLA Conference 2013 From: Department of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University,

Kolkata, India

Number of Proposed Sessions: One Session of one and a half hour Number of Proposed Speakers: Five speakers Title: Comparative Literature: The Indian Hour Concept Note: This panel aims to examine the rationale of an Indian hour in Comparative Literature practice and theory. A relational form of collective cultural practice necessitates a particular method of reading signification within a formalized disciplinary formation, and the practice and culture of literature in India necessitates a comparative method. In opposition to the temporal categorisation in the concept of hour, the principal contention of this panel is the historical fact of a relational way of life in a plural society. The practice of Comparativism in the Indian context cannot be constricted within a specific temporal limitation, sometimes called an hour: rather, it has to be conceptualized keeping in mind the processes of production, dissemination and reception of texts within the complex web formed of several language-literary systems that are part of the inherited and the contemporary literary cultures in the subcontinent. This, along with the existence of a formal department of Comparative Literature in the country for more than fifty years has prompted an exploration of the efficacy and application of Comparativism in the Indian context. This panel is an attempt to historically chart the practice and theory of Comparativism in the Indian context, conceptualising it not only as a critical premise but also as a condition of life and in a plural society.

Individual Abstracts

1. Literal Translation as a Critical Approach from the Standpoint of a Translator of Sanskrit Texts Professor Pratap Bandopadhyay Retd. Professor of Sanskrit, Burdwan University Honorary General Editor VDUP Project, Asiatic Society, Kolkata Honorary Guest Faculty, Department of Comparative Literature Jadavpur University, Kolkata India E-mail: This study intends to look at the category Indian Hour in terms of the available critical approaches in Sanksrit and ostensibly Sanskrit-derived Indian languages towards translation, one of the most important concerns of comparative literary theory and practice. In doing so, the study would also try to locate the differences between these Indian approaches and those prevalent in the Western traditions. Comparative Literature is a multistream discipline that looks at many literatures on the comparative level. Since it may not be possible for a single person to know many languages for comparative study of originals in different languages, translation happens to be a veritable tool for the purpose in question. Toward this end, literal translations of the original works are required for a dependable access. A free translation may stand in the way between the

original writer and the reader of translation. A literal translation is apparently not a critical approach but a mechanical one. In reality, this evaluation is not correct. In translating a text literally, the translator has to take the utmost care to grasp the spirit of the original text and choose the right word and expression in the translation. If not always possible sometimes footnotes may be required for the benefit of the reader, This will be illustrated in the proposed paper with reference to a number of synonyms in Sanskrit, for roughly the same meaning, like kavya and sahitya (poetry and literature), patni, bharya, kanta, priya, kalatra etc. for wife, suhrd, bandhu, ritra, sakhi for friend and so on. Sometimes the translator has to keep in mind the syntax of the original text a slight deviation going un-noticed, may mar the significance of the original text. This will be illustrated through a verse from Kalidasas Raghuvamsa (XIII.58). All this makes a literal translation, let alone a free one, which has its utility for the purpose of re-creation from the original, a critical approach. It is on this level that the Indian notions of translation, conceived of in terminologies not exactly transferable in this English word, differs considerably from those in the West which, needless to say, is not a singularly homogenous entity. But the Indian hour in reference to these practices, then, becomes a category conceptually difficult to locate in the Indian literary practices, whether critical or creative. 2. Striking the Indian Hour Professor Ipshita Chanda Department of Comparative Literature Jadavpur University, Kolkata India

E-mail: Budhadeva Bose, who established the first university department of Comparative Literature in India, reported on the foundations and practice of Comparative Literature in the country in Comparative Literature in India' (Buddhadeva Bose, Yearbook of Comparative and General Literature, Vol. 8 (1959), 1-10). Amiya Dev did the same in 2000 for CLCWeb (Volume 2 Issue 4 December 2000). The aim of this panel is to continue this practice of taking stock for and of ourselves, and presenting the practitioners perception of her position vis--vis pedagogy, practice and theory within the discipline. The task of this paper in the panel Comparative Literature: Indian Hour is to provide the focus: to understand what is meant by the Indian hour and to situate it in the larger discourse of Comparative Literature as it is practised today. The paper is an exercise in constructing a history of and from the texts foundational to Comparative Literature as it is presented to student and scholar in India. What is the structure of feeling in which this narrative of the history and theory of a discipline is constructed? This is the central question to be addressed in this presentation. The method of reading proposed by Comparative Literature will be considered by the other scholars on the panel through application to texts from various media and social systems. The task of this paper is to report the context, theoretical and historical, of Comparative Literature in India as a discipline and as a practice. This presentation proceeds on the assumption that for reader and writer alike, Comparative Literature demands the ability to hear the voices of the text, their tone and texture. This ability to hear is a basic necessity for daily life in India. Its gradual disappearance is a fear that animates Comparative Literature practice in India. The motive force of Comparative Literature in India today is the art of living in a plural society, and that is the methodological insight that this panel will attempt to share. 3. In Search of the Swan-song: A study of Music and the Lyric in Medieval India Mr. S. Satish Kumar

M.Phil Scholar Department of Comparative Literature Jadavpur University, Kolkata India E-mail: The music of the Indian subcontinent is as diverse a phenomenon as the literatures of India. As Sisir Kumar Das has pointed out in several places the lyric of medieval India cannot be understood in its entirety divorced from the music. Now while the Bhakti period in India bore witness to an unprecedented rise of the lyric it also saw several defining moments in the development of the music systems of the subcontinent. Now these changes were not only in terms of spirit but also the rise of new forms. One can locate these changes in the interactions between the music systems of India and those of the Perso-Arabic tradition facilitated by the strong Sufi presence in India at the time. The contributions of the likes of Amir Khusrau in this respect are obviously undeniable. What one proposes to do in this paper is to use the formations of Influence-Reception, Rupture-Renovation and Hospitality which are in currency in the practice of Comparative Literature to understand not only the evolution of Indian Music but also its development in relation to the Indian Lyric in the medieval period.

4. The pathway, both dense and desolate: Bhakti movement and an approach to Comparative Indian Literary Historiography Mr. Arnab Dutta Postgraduate, 1st Year Department of Comparative Literature

Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India E-mail: From around eighth century CE to the eighteenth, over a span of almost a millennia, India saw the rise of Bhakti movement spanned over a long period of literary history in India, and spread across a vast cultural space in various diverse, and therefore virtually divergent, language cultures of what we presently call Indian subcontinent. It synthesized various philosophical as well as literary traditions, albeit keeping the astonishing thematic coherence of Bhakti in its core. The different traditions, little or great or what may be called in Indian terms as desi and margi prevalent in different parts and distant corners of the country, as well as regional or local variations on the National, were given a semblance in unity and continuity by Bhakti alone and this sense of continuity is, at times, intensely visible on the very surface of texts, and at others, latent but no less powerful. There lies indeed a valid assertion embedded within the very textual cultures of each of all these different language-literary cultures (or language centric literary cultures, so to say) on how to proceed through the entire gamut of Bhakti literatures born into that in terms of both the aesthetic paradigms and the distinctive literary expressions. But this already-said sense of continuity in themes spread across such an extended spatial and temporal axis posits the foundational questions vis--vis Indian Literature in general, and the problematic of the very notion periodization inherent to it. Comparative Literature, in its Indian Hour although the very aim of this panel bearing this nomenclature is to peruse it on the fact of such watertight Western categorization being nonexistent, at least in a wholesome and comprehensive approach to Indian Literary Historiography is an attempt to historically chart the practice and theory of Comparativism in the Indian context. To have the Bhakti movement in the fore, and thereby to explore the efficacy and application of Comparativism in the Indian context would be the primal focus of this paper, situated within the broader

rubrics of the panel envisaging Comparative Indian Literature as the best available method to approach such a literary phenomenon, conceptualizing it not only as a critical premise or aesthetic choice but also as a prerequisite condition of life in a plurilingual and pluricultural literary-system.

5. Grounds of Comparison: Situating Comparativism in the Indian Literary Context Mr. Judhajit Sarkar Postgraduate, 1st Year Department of Comparative Literature Jadavpur University, Kolkata India E-mail: This paper aims to understand the dynamics of the production and reading of 'modern' literary texts written in Indian languages using Comparativism as a method. Going by Paul Ricoeur's argument that the methods of interpretation have their inevitable implications upon the 'ontology of understanding', thereby affecting and enriching the cogito of the interpreter, this study would try to locate the methodologies of interpretation firstly on the level of textual construction and secondly on the level of the reader's position vis--vis the text and the 'structures of feeling' that is the context of its production. The very dynamics of this 'space' makes the task of locating hermeneutical action in phenomenology an essential task for the Indian Comparatist. That Indian practitioners of Comparative Literature have not found the 'anxiety' over the future and present of this discipline, its 'uncertain' objects of study and equally uncertain methodologies of enquiry to be over-arching concerns is related to the fact

that for us the 'grounds of comparison' are inherent in Indian literary cultures, and do not need to be invented anew. The reader's location in a plural society like India's, most likely to be constituted of contesting worldviews held within interpenetrating ways of life and languages, plays a key role in the construction of the hermeneutic strategies one implements in reading a text. A repertoire of experience similarly constructed shapes the writer's understanding of the realities of life and literature as well and therefore, are bound to find expression in the crafting of the text also. Then what remains for a Comparatist to do is to locate himself in the process of those literary cultures, recognize those patterns which go into the making of such stoff, and to fashion one's methodologies of enquiry accordingly. Though this study will operate on a synchronic level, studying texts easily labelled 'modern', the synchronies have to be collected from diverse diachronies. Following this the study would attempt to show the inapplicability of Claudio Guillen's formulation of an 'hour' in Comparative Literature when placed against the Indian situation. Neither 'school', which Guillen criticises as inadequate for the twentieth century, nor 'hour', which he advocates, might be useful categories to conceptually locate comparative literary practices in India because of the very nature of Indian literatures. The texts under consideration in this study are instances where 'inherited texts' easily penetrate their very organizational principle, thus making the task of situating them in a historical continuum essential for a Comparatist. 'Indian hour' in Comparative Literature becomes, then, not a temporal unit, easy to be fixed in history. It rather shows the continuity of a pattern of writing deeply permeated by the ways of life in a pluricultural and plurilinguistic social formation.

Short Bionote of Authors:

Pratap Bandopadhyay is a retired professor of Sanskrit at Burdwan University, India. He is the Honorary General Editor of VDUP Project of Asiatic Society, Kolkata. He currently

teaches as an honorary guest faculty at the Department of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University, Kolkata. He has translated extensively from Sanskrit to English and Bengali. Ipshita Chanda teaches at the Department of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University. She has published widely in the field of Comparative Literature and popular culture. Her major publications include Packaging Freedom: Feminism and Popular Culture, Tracing the Charit as a Genre, Selfing the City, Reception of the Received: European Romanticism, Rabindranath Tagore and Suryakant Tripathi Nirala, Journey of the Namah. She has also translated the writings of Sukumar Ray, Satinath Bhaduri and Mahashweta Devi into English. S. Satish Kumar is at present a graduate student at the Department of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University Kolkata India where he is pursuing an M.Phil degree. Arnab Dutta is a graduate student in the Department of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University. Apart from his mother tongue Bangla, the languages known to him includes English, German, French, Sanskrit and Latin. His research interests comprise Comparative Literature methodology, Orality, Print-culture and Reading practice in South Asia. His major publications till date are Firiwlr Dk: A linguistic enquiry on the peddlers trade-cry in and around Kolkata and Pressed in the Capital City, London: The Role of London in Bengali Book and Printing History. Judhajit Sarkar is currently a graduate student at the Department of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University. He has completed his undergraduate degree from the same institution.