The Recognition of Śakuntalā: Sex, Comedy, and Rasa – October 1

A Lecture by: Dr. Rita Banerjee
Rutgers University *
Thursday October 1, 2015 * 3:20-4:40 pm
Rutgers Cinema Room 2 * Livingston Campus

This lecture will focus on how Rasa Theory, as outlined by the dramatist Bharata in his Nāṭyaśāstra and the 10th century aesthetician Abhivanagupta, can be read in Kālidāsa’s play, The Recognition of Śakuntalā.  This talk will focus on how Kālidāsa employs various bhāvas (emotions), alaṃkāras (literary devices), and forms of abhinaya (acting) through suggestion (dhvani) to manipulate the emotional state of his audience.  Sex, comedy, and the emotional upheaval of Kālidāsa’s play will be compared to later adaptations of Śakuntalā and to the structure and eros of Goethe’s Faust.

South Asia and Theories of the Avant-Garde: The International Scope of South Asian Literary Modernisms – September 24

KavitaA Lecture by: Dr. Rita Banerjee
Institut für Indologie und Tibetologie
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

Rutgers University
Thursday September 24, 2015
Reception 4:30 p.m. – Lecture 5:00 p.m.
Alexander Library, Pane Room

169 College Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

RBThis presentation will highlight the role that translation and multilingualism played in opening up discussions and theories of modernism within the South Asian literary canons of Bengali, Hindi, and English in the early to mid-20th century. The lecture will explore the representations and international scope of literary modernisms in journals such as Kallol, Kavitā, and Krittibās in Bengali, the Nayī Kavitā journal and the Tār Saptak group in Hindi, and the Writers Workshop group in English. Theories of modernism as proposed by critics such as Dipti Tripathi and Acharya Nand Dulare Bajpai will be contrasted with manifestos of modernism, with Agyeya’s defense of experimentalism (prayogvād), with theories of translation as proposed by Bhola Nath Tiwari, and with translations of foreign writers and aesthetic forms. In doing so, the presentation will note how the study of modernist practices, translation, and theory in Bengali, Hindi, and English provides insight into the pluralistic, multi-dimensional, and ever-evolving cultural sphere of modern South Asia beyond the suppositions of postcolonial binaries and monolingual paradigms.

Sponsored by: Program in Comparative Literature • South Asian Studies Program •
Department of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures •
Office of the Dean of Humanities and Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, School of Arts and Sciences

Guest Lecture: The Rāmāyaṇa as Speculative Fiction by Anil Menon – June 17

BreakingtheBowSouth Asian Science-Fiction writer Anil Menon will give a special guest lecture on “Rendevous with Rama: The Rāmāyaṇa as Speculative Fiction” in Rita Banerjee’s course Modernity and the South Asian Imaginaire.  The lecture will take place on Wednesday June 17 from 12-2 pm at the Institute for Indology and Tibetology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München in Seminar Room 427 (Ludwigstr. 31, Munich).  The lecture is part of the course Modernity and the South Asian Imaginaire at LMU.  Anyone interested in Modern South Asian literature, history, or art house film is welcomed to join Menon’s special guest lecture.

Rendezvous With Rama: The Rāmāyaṇa as Speculative Fiction

In speculative fiction, a story’s context is also a part of the story, and when writing speculative fiction, an author can play with many other contexts as well: political, psychological, social, anthropological, historical, ethical, and so on.  Speculative fiction is thus a literature of ambiguity, interpretation, and surprise.  In this talk, we’ll examine the Rāmāyaṇa (mainly, Valmiki’s version) and see if it can be characterized as speculative fiction. As Naiyar Masud’s story “Sheesha Ghat” illustrates, it can be tricky to make these decisions. At the other end of the spectrum, we have “The Jaguar’s Wife,” a narrative with rather improbable events, but which insists on being read as a realist tale. Between the stuttered speech of Masud’s child protagonist and the multitude of voices in “The Jaguar’s Wife,” may be positioned the silent lonely figure of Lord Rama, the man devoted to moral action. I’ll argue that it is in playing with the contextual assumption that Text (words, laws, rules,…) can represent the actual world, that the Rāmāyaṇa becomes a work of speculative fiction.

AnilM15Anil Menon’s short fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies including Albedo One, Interzone, Interfictions, Jaggery Lit Review, LCRW, Sybil’s Garage, and Strange Horizons. His stories have been translated into Chinese, French, German, Hebrew and Romanian. His debut novel The Beast With Nine Billion Feet (Zubaan Books, 2010) was short-listed for the 2010 Vodafone-Crossword award and the Carl Brandon Society’s 2011 Parallax Award. Along with Vandana Singh, he co-edited Breaking the Bow (Zubaan Books 2012), an anthology of speculative fiction stories inspired by the Ramayana. He has a forthcoming novel Half Of What I Say (Bloomsbury, 2015). He can be contacted at