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National Literature in a Multilingual Nation. Sujit chandak pre ph d presentation

National Literature in a Multilingual Nation. Sujit chandak pre ph d presentation



It was a presentation of a research topic as part of the Pre-Phd course work assessment @ University of Mumbai. The topic was to be entirely different from one's proposed research work. Made this PPT ...

It was a presentation of a research topic as part of the Pre-Phd course work assessment @ University of Mumbai. The topic was to be entirely different from one's proposed research work. Made this PPT which was handy while speaking...



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    National Literature in a Multilingual Nation. Sujit chandak pre ph d presentation National Literature in a Multilingual Nation. Sujit chandak pre ph d presentation Presentation Transcript

    • National Literature in a Multilingual Nation Sujit R. Chandak Pre-Ph.D. Course presentation Department of English, University of Mumbai
    • In this presentation I would attempt to understand:• • • • • Nation and National Literature Problematic of Multilingual Nation National Literature: Multiple Languages Simplistic solutions Alternative approaches in constructing the National Literature in Multilingual Nations such as India • Questions
    • Nation and National Literature • Emergence of ‘Nations’ in Europe • Eric Hobswam & famously Benedict Anderson have explained the emergence of Nation • There has been a flood of Nation states in the post 1940s; the colonies getting free • Political elite –western educated- made the choice of organizing themselves in terms of Nation; Nationalist consciousness developed with struggle for freedom
    • Nation and National Literature • Thus, an essentially European concept came to colonies, where it needed to be altered • In post-colonial world ‘Nation’ invests aesthetic expressions with a sense of identifying with the long struggle against the colonial oppression and struggle for independence. • Bruce King describes post-colonial nations as ‘the new centre of consciousness’ (1)
    • Nation and National Literature • In the Euro-American model of Nation hood the National Literature was that written in the national Language; they were mono or bilingual countries • Most of the post-colonial nations have many languages, at times multitude • But still the ‘colonial modernity’ of the leaders wanted that there should be a national construction of Art & Literature
    • Problematic of Multilingual Nation • Multiple Languages and the need of an official language of the Nation as also to connect the diverse masses • Solved in various ways: By adopting more than one language, or all the major languages, by including the colonial master’s language
    • Problematic of Multilingual Nation • A multilingual sign at the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Pier in Macao • Easily done in the countries where language was not something revered and sacrosanct and people saw it more as a tool. They had always been bi/multi-lingual
    • National Literature: Multiple Languages • Defining and categorizing the National Literature, as in ‘Indian Literature’, was a much more tricky issue • Apprehension was there that it may involve the privileging of one or some of these Literature and culture; those which were expressed in a language spoken by more number of people & hence patronized by the state
    • National Literature: Multiple Languages • In India there were a numerous languages which produced their own literature • Numbers do not matter in such issues; what is of importance is the uniqueness of each • This needed to consolidate with singular idea of a ‘National Literature’
    • Simplistic solutions • All literature produced in all the languages of that country as the National Literature • With reference to Canada, French, English and Quebec French; in Srilanka Sinhalese, Tamil and English; in India all the 18 constitutional languages plus four patronized by Sahitya Akademi
    • Simplistic solutions • Symbolic slogans such as ‘unity in diversity’ etc. were forwarded and there was an attempt to resolve the dichotomy of National Literature (one literature) being written in multiple languages
    • Simplistic solutions • The motto of the Sahitya Akademi was fixed in the words of Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan as “Indian Literature is one though written in many languages” • The resultant retort to Sahitya Akedmi’s motto: “Indian Literature is one because it is written in many languages”
    • Alternative approaches to the issue • The nature of National Literature has also to be interrogated by asking whether Indian in ‘Indian Literature’ is same as the Indian in ‘Indian Nation’ or in ‘Indian Cricket team’ • Do and can the word ‘Indian’ signify different meaning • P. P. Raveendran discusses this in his essay, “Genealogies of Indian Literature” and questions whether Indian literature as a unified field bearing the marks of a unified literary sensibility in fact exists, and goes on to add:
    • Alternative approaches to the issue • “It might be pertinent to point out that “Indian literature”, ontologically unified object that is theorised as connected by a shared discursive history and shared epistemological concerns, is not the same as “literature in India” or “literatures in India”.(2) • What belongs to the regional is also national; one cannot belong to the whole of India without belonging to a specific part of India.
    • Alternative approaches to the issue • This position of dual identity is explored by the Marathi playwright, and critic G. P. Deshpande: • “When we speak of National Theatre we do so with almost no knowledge of the various Indian theatres….the terminology of “regional” is misleading when it comes to cultural production. Each mode is uniquely important; each mode is uniquely Indian” (3)
    • Alternative approaches to the issue • To define the Indianness of Indian (National) Literature, framework of Interliterary process as propounded by the Slovak theorist Durisin can be used • He argues to look for relationships arising from contactual co-existense (4) • Indian Scholars such as Amiya Dev and others point to similar directions. Dev, defines Indian Literature as:
    • Alternative approaches to the issue • “not an entity but an interliterary condition in the widest possible sense of the concept which is related to Goethe's original idea of Weltliteratur ... The interliterary condition of India, we should remember, reaches backmuch farther than its manuscript or print culture ... bhakti a popular religious movement as both theme and social issue…”(5)
    • Interliterary Condition of India BHAKTI movement • A major theme in many of the literatures of India • It is in pre-national time, but the presence of similar theme across can be studied as the marker of some kind of unity • Whether it is contactual or not this condition is one which finds a voice all across the geographical area of India
    • To Conclude… • Multilingual nations and the corresponding need to look for a literature which defines a Nation are a reality. This cannot be done in a simplistic manner, without taking into account the differences of not just language but also cultures, way and forms of expression and the life worlds. A Comparative and relativist approach is the way forward.
    • References 1. King, Bruce, ed. New National and Post colonial Literatures: an Introduction, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1996 2. Raveendran, P.P. “Genealogies of Indian Literature.” Economic and Political Weekly June 24, 2006: 2558-2563 3. Deshpande, G. P. “History, Politics and the Modern Playwright”. Theatre India I, 91-97 4. Durisin, Dionýz. Theory of Interliterary Process. Bratislava: VEDA/Slovak Academy of Sciences, 1989. 5. DevAmiya, "Unity and Diversity in Indiaand Comparative Literature," in Comparative Literature Now: Theories and Practice, Paris: Honoré Champion, 1999. 65-74.