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Nagaland hosts 3-day literary seminar

Kohima, July 28: Professors, scholars and academicians from across the country are attending a three-day seminar on Contemporary Commonwealth Literature in English: Concepts, Techniques and Trends that started at Mount Olive College here yesterday.

The seminar is the first of its kind in the state and is being sponsored by the UGC.

On the inaugural day, the associate professor of the department of English of Nagaland University, A.J. Sebastian, said Indian literature in English had emerged as one of the largest literary forces today. He also reflected on some works of Naga poets and writers, including Silent Death by Anungla Longchari on victims of rape and Ayangla Longkumer’s Angel Girl, which brings into focus the murder of innocence through rape and molestation.

In her first volume of poems titled, Weapons of Words on Pages of Pain, Monalisa Changkija speaks of battered and abused women and challenges them to rise above second-class citizenry. She calls for peace and brotherhood in several of her poems, particularly Child of Cain.

Nini Lungalang in her poem, Man and Whore, says women are derided whereas men are projected as untainted. But for a dialogue to be successful, both have to be on an equal pedestal.

Rosemary Dzuvichu’s Womanhood is a critique of gender inequality. Through a series of questions raised by a young girl, she generates attention to the social malady.

Former professor and head of department, English, Goa University, Anand Patil said a home-grown theory to study commonwealth literature comparatively from the cultural perspective might pave new paths. “We know nothing about folk traditions in Nagaland and Mizoram but everything about modern American drama which brings Fulbright scholarships,” he said.

Among others who attended tha seminar were Jaydeep Sarangi of department of English, Jogesh Chandra Chaudhuri College, Calcutta University; Asima Ranjan Parhi, Rajiv Gandhi University, Arunachal Pradesh; Sanjib Sahoo from Diphu Government College, Assam; Debashis Baruah from Furkating College, Assam; Bhubanananda Pattanaik from Madhabdev College, Lakhimpur, Assam; Nityananda Pattanayak from ADP College, Nagaon; Rukshana Khan from Chattisgarh; Deva Kumar Mahanta of Kakojan College, Jorhat and Jitumani Choudhury, research scholar, Guwahati University.

Commissioner, agriculture, H.K. Khulu who was the chief guest, thanked the UGC for sponsoring the programme, which, he said, would benefit the people, especially in Nagaland.

Jaydeep Sarangi, department of English, Jogesh Chandra Chaudhuri College, Calcutta University, said Dalit literature in India was subversive or structurally alternative to the models prescribed by traditional Hindu aesthetics because it was the literature of sociological oppression and economical exploitation. He said Dalit literature was essentially a shock to the so-called traditional senses.

Asima Ranjan Parhi, Rajiv Gandhi University, Arunachal Pradesh, said English language had become synonymous with acquisition of power — political, economic, social and cultural.

Sanjib Sahoo from Diphu Government College, Assam, said while the relationship between this part of the country with the rest of the Indian sub-continent and particularly the Centre was one of mutual distrust, Northeast authors writing in English explore the concept of nation, freedom and development of the people of the region as an alternative to nationhood that has percolated from the centres of power.

Debashis Baruah from Furkating College, Assam, said writing in English in the Northeast as a discourse can vaguely be said to have started during the last two decades of the previous century.

Bhubanananda Pattanaik from Madhabdev College, Lakhimpur, Assam, said Indian fiction in English had changed dramatically in style, theme and ideology in the more than 25 years following the publication of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children.

Nityananda Pattanayak from ADP College, Nagaon, said realism in literature represented real life, reality filtered and purged and while using it in a piece of creative work, a writer uses common conventions of representation.

Rukshana Khan from Chattisgarh said literature was a powerful tool in the hands of creative writers to modulate and change the societal framework.

Bapsi Sidhwa through her extremely absorbing novels, The Pakistani Bride and Ice-Candy Man, represents a distinctive and original contribution to all oppressed voiceless subaltern around the world and provides an extraordinary insight into the vulnerable position of women caught in the complex web of patriarchal society.

Deva Kumar Mahanta of Kakojan College, Jorhat, said it is an uncontroversial fact that in all modern creative writing the permutation and combination of the self with anti-self is what shapes the work of the writers. “It is in Indo-English that the self is fully exposed without any shield or cover,” he said.

Jitumani Choudhury, research scholar, Guwahati University said Indian writing today represents a unique identity. “It seems Indian English writers have insisted on the exploration of identity as Indian against its western counterparts and struggled simultaneously to locate themselves in a culturally diverse society.

Commissioner, agriculture, H.K. Khulu who was the chief guest, thanked the UGC for sponsoring the programme, which, he said, would benefit the people, especially in Nagaland.

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