Purulia, Dec. 6: A “first-of-its-kind” that tore to shreds several illusions opened in this westernmost district today when an international seminar on Re-reading Renaissance Literature was inaugurated at the J.K. College.
In the sprawling campus 5 km from the town, scholars from the US, Europe and India will be discoursing over three days at the seminar organised by the college’s department of English and the Shakespeare Society of Eastern India.
The delegates include over 300 professors, teachers and students from colleges in the district and Burdwan.
“It is a red letter day for us. For an undergraduate college to hold a seminar and have as many as five foreign speakers and members of six Indian universities taking part is definitely an achievement,” said Sasanka Senapati, head of the English department.
The staff and students of the college were largely responsible for raising the Rs 80,000-odd required to host a meet of this stature.
The UGC assistance that was sought did not come through though the 54-year-old college affiliated to the Burdwan University has produced several toppers over the years. Support, however, was available from local political leaders and the administration.
“I hope this seminar inspires other colleges in the district and the state,” said Bir Singh Mahato, an MP and ex-student of the college.
Zilla parishad chairman Swapan Banerjee of the CPM, who arranged a Rs 5-lakh grant for a new library at the college, said: “Frankly, I was not sure how successful the meet would be. I know little of Renaissance literature. But I do know that the Renaissance gave rise to capitalism, consumerism and degradation of older values.”
Two sessions were held on the first day. Holger Klein of the University of Salzburg, Austria, spoke on Hamlet and Revenge Tragedy, Robert Zaller of Drexel University, Philadelphia, spoke on the portrayal of capital punishment in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure. Other speakers included Catherine Henze of Wisconsin University, Sheila Cavanagh from Emory University and Lila Beta, a poet and performing artist.
Apologising for not being able to accommodate all the delegates in the hall — which had space for 250 — the college governing body chairman said: “We need a proper auditorium. Let this seminar serve as an impetus.”