Rising Asia Journal
Rising Asia Foundation
Call for Papers, Michael Ondaatje Conference, Sept 2021
Asian Literatures in Motion
Asian Literatures in Motion
Asian Literatures in Motion

MICHAEL ONDAATJE’S “GLOBE OF FEAR”
Refractions of the Father and the Fatherland

Asian Literatures in Motion Conference
September 24-25, 2021
On Google Meet

To join the Conference, please click on:
https://meet.google.com/qvm-gxcc-ypt

PROGRAM SUMMARY

DAY ONE
September 24, 2021 at 5 P.M. to 8.30 P.M. India Time

5.30 PM to 6 PM:

KEYNOTE LECTURE BY PROFESSOR HARSHANA RAMBUKWELLA
Director, Postgraduate Institute of English, Open University of Sri Lanka.
KEYNOTE LECTURE TITLE: Sri Lanka, Michael Ondaatje and Literary Cosmopolitanism

6.05 PM to 6.25 PM:

PLENARY LECTURE 1
DR. DEBASHREE DATTARAY
Associate Professor, Department of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University
PAPER TITLE: The Other Side of Everyday: Traveling “Homespace” in Running in the Family

6.30 PM to 6.50 PM:

PLENARY LECTURE 2
DR. JEANNE C. EWERT
Research Librarian, University of Florida
PAPER TITLE: The Problem of Page 189: Intertexts in Running in the Family

6.50 PM to 7.10 PM:

DISCUSSANTS: DR. ROMA BHATTACHARJEA, D.Phil., Oxford University, and PROFESSOR JULIE MEHTA

7.15 PM to 7.30 PM:

PAPER PRESENTER: KUMKUM RAY, Assistant Professor, Department of English Literature, G.S. College
PAPER TITLE: Cultural Mosaic and the City Space in In The Skin Of A Lion

7.35 PM to 7.50 PM:

PAPER PRESENTER: HARSH KUMAR SINGH, Graduate Student, St. Xavier’s University
PAPER TITLE: Teens, Trolls and Toxicity: The Dark Side of the Games Coop Plays in Divisadero

7.55 PM to 8.15 PM:

PAPER PRESENTER: RAKA MUKHERJEE
Independent Scholar
PAPER TITLE: A Palimpsest of Contested Identities: A Comparative Study of Ondaatje’s Divisadero and Alice Munro’s “Dulse”

8.15 PM to 8.30 PM:

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

DAY TWO
September 25, 2021 at 5 P.M. to 8.30 P.M. India Time

5.10 PM t0 5.30 PM:

PLENARY LECTURE 1
DR. APARNA HALPÉ
Professor of English, Centennial College, Toronto
PAPER TITLE: Fatherhood as Literary Influence: Michael Ondaatje Within the Lankan Context

5.35 PM to 5.55 PM:

PLENARY LECTURE 2
DR. ISABEL ALONSO-BRETO
Lecturer in Postcolonial Studies, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and English Studies, University of Barcelona
PAPER TITLE: Reading Care in Anil’s Ghost

6.00 PM to 6.15 PM:

PAPER PRESENTER: DR. LAKSHMI A K
Associate Professor, Department of English, Government Victoria College, Palakkad
PAPER TITLE: Representation of History in Anil’s Ghost

6.15 PM to 6.30 PM:

DISCUSSANT: DR. JULIE MEHTA

6.35 PM to 7.05 PM:

KEYNOTE LECTURE BY PROFESSOR MARLENE GOLDMAN
Department of English, University of Toronto
KEYNOTE LECTURE TITLE: The Art of “Gothic-Detection” in Ondaatje’s Corpus

7.10 PM to 7.25 PM:

PAPER PRESENTER: GIFTY JOSEPH
Guest Lecturer, St. Joseph’s College, Moolamattom
PAPER TITLE: Scarred Psyches and Mutilated Bodies: Trauma in Anil’s Ghost

7.30 PM to 7.45 PM:

PAPER PRESENTER: MOHINI MAUREEN PRADHAN
Independent Scholar
PAPER TITLE: Subversive Art and History in The English Patient and Divisadero

7.50 PM to 8.05 PM:

PAPER PRESENTER: HUSSENA CALCUTTAWALA
Independent Scholar
PAPER TITLE: The English Patient as Representation of History: Novel versus Film

8.10 PM to 8.25 PM:

PAPER PRESENTER: AYUSHI RAY
Independent Scholar
PAPER TITLE: The Colonized Sikh Warrior in the Land of the Colonizer

8.25 PM to 8.35 PM:

The Poetics of Michael Ondaatje

8.35 PM to 8.50 PM:

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

8.50 PM:

VOTE OF THANKS BY DR HARISH MEHTA

FULL PROGRAM

DAY ONE
September 24, 2021 at 5 P.M. India Time

5.30 PM to 6 PM:

KEYNOTE LECTURE BY PROFESSOR HARSHANA RAMBUKWELLA
Director, Postgraduate Institute of English, Open University of Sri Lanka.
Professor Harshana Rambukwella has been a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Edinburgh, and he was also the Sri Lanka Chair at the South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg, Germany in 2019. His book The Politics and Poetics of Authenticity: A Cultural Genealogy of Sinhala Nationalism was published by University College London Press in 2018. He is a trustee of the Gratiaen Trust which awards the Gratiaen Prize for Sri Lankan writing in English. He has also served on the juries of the national Swarna Pusthaka Awards for the Sinhala novel, the national Fairway Literature Awards, and the State Literary Prize. Harshana has published in areas ranging from socio-linguistics, literary and cultural studies to history in journals such as boundary 2, Journal of Asian Studies, and Journal of Commonwealth Literature.

KEYNOTE LECTURE ABSTRACT
Sri Lanka, Michael Ondaatje and Literary Cosmopolitanism
This talk explores the notion of ‘literary cosmopolitanism’ as a means of ‘thinking and feeling’ beyond the frames of reference conditioned by nation and nationalism. However, I critically deploy nationalism and cosmopolitanism not as a stable binary but two ends of a continuum which are dependent on each other and co-produce each other. The seeming opposition between nationalism and cosmopolitanism also facilitates a means of understanding the life and career of Michael Ondaatje. As a trustee of the Gratiaen Trust established by Ondaatje to promote Sri Lankan writing in English, I have witnessed this cosmopolitan spirit in action. It is, however, a cosmopolitanism that is also tempered by a sense of affective investment in a particular place—rather than a rootless sense of unbelonging. With reference to a few of Ondaatje’s fictional works I argue that we can understand Ondaatje’s literary spirit as one formed by what Edward Said termed ‘affiliation’—a worldly orientation that is informed by an affective connection to one’s natal culture but also simultaneously outside of it and refusing to be overdetermined by filial attachment.

6.05 PM to 6.25 PM:

PLENARY LECTURE 1
DR. DEBASHREE DATTARAY
Associate Professor, Department of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University
PAPER TITLE: The Other Side of Everyday: Travelling “Homespace” in Running in the Family.
ABSTRACT: Covid-19 and its aftermath mark an important juncture for an understanding of diasporic subjectivities that challenge and renegotiate essentialist conceptualizations of identity, particularly within the theoretical matrix provided by migration and displacement. Ondaatje’s oeuvre brings to the forefront the most unresolved contradictions within normative frameworks. Running in the Family rethinks boundaries of diasporic identities that challenge and redefine the proclivities of narrative history by interrogating both the absolute understanding of the past and the ideological affinities as embedded in historical representations of both the past and the present. Through a discussion of Ondaatje’s travel narrative/memoir, this paper would revisit the tantalizing presence of the “everyday” in the context of a “homespace” evoked through the “power of the political imaginary.” The “everyday” in Running in the Family not only disrupts the relationship between memory and history, but also has the potential to rearticulate the trajectory of narratives of the “homespace” through fluid cultural and spatial representations.

DEBASHREE DATTARAY is Associate Professor in Comparative Literature and Deputy Coordinator, Centre for Canadian Studies at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India. She has been the recipient of a Fulbright Alumni Award 2019, the Shastri Mobility Programme at McGill University, CICOPS Fellowship at University of Pavia, Italy, a Fulbright-Nehru Visiting Lecturer Fellowship at UC Berkeley, the Erasmus Mundus Europe Asia Fellowship at the University of Amsterdam, and Fulbright Doctoral Fellowship at State University of New York, Stony Brook. Her areas of research and publication are Postcolonial Studies, Environmental Studies, Indigenous Studies, Education, Gender, Narrative, Comparative Indian Literature Methodology and Folklore. She is author of Oral Traditions of the North East: A Case Study of Karbi Oral Traditions (2015) and has co-edited At the Crossroads of Literature and Culture (2016), Following Forkhead Paths: Discussions on the Narrative (2017) Ecocriticism and Environment: Rethinking Literature and Culture (2017), and has been Issue Editor for a special volume, Indigenous Studies for Littcrit: An Indian Response to Literature (December 2017). She is Principal Investigator for the Jadavpur University RUSA 2.0 Project on ‘Locating Indigeneity in the Global South: Revival, Conservation, Sustainability.’

6.30 PM to 6.50 PM:

PLENARY LECTURE 2
DR. JEANNE C. EWERT
Research Librarian, University of Florida
PAPER TITLE: The Problem of Page 189: Intertexts in Running in the Family
ABSTRACT: Michael Ondaatje’s memoir of his parents’ lives in Sri Lanka reaches its climax in a scene in which Ondaatje pictures his father drunk, returning at night from Colombo to the tea estate of Thanikama. This scene, which only be imagined by Ondaatje, includes a remarkable piece of authorial sleight-of-hand. Alone on the tea plantation Mervyn Ondaatje finds the novel he’s been reading on the bathroom floor, where ants are carrying away page 189. The description of this event appears on page 189 of all early editions of Running in the Family. The complex motives for this crucial textual recursion can be unpacked through a careful analysis of the network of literary allusions that run through it, which include A Midsummer Night’s Dream and King Lear, Peter Pan, Michael Arlen’s The Green Hat, a poem by Lakdasa Wikkramasinha, and One Hundred Years of Solitude. These intertexts, which are alluded to in only the most fleeting way and require significant effort to untangle, frustrate the reader with what Michel Riffaterre has termed “agrammaticalities”—semantic contradictions that cannot be resolved with a literal (mimetic) reading of the text, but only by an appeal to another text, outside it. The intertexts that intersect on page 189 bring the reader who is willing to tease them out through a series of narratives about blind, inattentive, neglectful parents to one final scene in One Hundred Years of Solitude, in which the body an infant is being dragged away by ants. The baby’s empty skin is described as vellum or parchment. Ondaatje, connecting Running in the Family to the (unknown) book his father reads via the device of page 189, suggests that his father neglects his son in neglecting the products of his son’s profession. What Mervyn sees being carried off by ants is a ghost of Michael’s writerly labor: “the intimate print,” the son, converted to vellum.

JEANNE C. EWERT holds an M.A. and PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Pennsylvania where she specialized in narratology and the French Nouveau Roman. She is a Research Librarian at the University of Florida, where she supports programs in global literatures in English and in film studies. Her interests lie in the formal study of narrative. Most recently she has published papers on etymology and naming in William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, the narrative economies of the comic strip in Art Spiegelman’s Maus, and the ironic narrative voice in the poetry of Margaret Atwood.

6.50 PM to 7.10 PM:

DISCUSSANTS
DR. ROMA BHATTACHARJEA, D.Phil., Oxford University
PROFESSOR JULIE BANERJEE MEHTA, Loreto College

Roma Bhattacharjea has a distinguished academic research and global policy background across Oxford University and the United Nations world-wide. She has been at the cutting edge of multidisciplinary global thinking, research and policy practice. For her Doctor of Philosophy in English Literature (Elizabethan Drama) she was selected by the Rhodes Committee of India for a Felix Scholarship at Oxford and was subsequently awarded several meritorious Oxford scholarships with competition across countries, notably Overseas Research Students (ORS) Award and the St. Anne’s College Oxford Overseas Scholarship. Subsequently she read for a Master of Philosophy in International Development Studies at Oxford, partly funded by the Oxford Radhakrishnan Memorial Bequest. She specialized in Refugee Studies/Forced Migration and the educational policy of the girl-child in South Asia. Since 1999, she has worked for the United Nations for societal transformation, world-wide, and at headquarters. She has contributed significantly towards pioneering, influencing and shaping United Nations global policy and institutional standards in the interface between international development and armed conflict from the vantage point of poor, marginalized populations, especially women and girls. She has served on policy advisory missions in several countries including SAARC and been to Sri Lanka several times. Her current emerging interests include bringing together perspectives from postcolonial writers (such as Ondaatje) towards reshaping our understandings of contemporary issues facing countries and the world.

7.15 PM to 7.30 PM:

PAPER PRESENTER: KUMKUM RAY
Assistant Professor, Department of English Literature, G.S. College, Chhapra, Bihar.
PAPER TITLE: Cultural Mosaic and the City Space in In The Skin Of A Lion
ABSTRACT: This paper excavates the counter-history of the marginalized immigrants that participated in Canadian national construction but found their voices suppressed. In 1970, the liberal government of Pierre Trudeau belatedly recognized the immigrants and their civil rights. Theirs are the marginalized voices that Ondaatje explores in his novel, In The Skin of a Lion—the voices from the margins in early 20th century Toronto, a city built during the Great Depression by migrants from various countries. Ondaatje, himself an immigrant to Canada, personally witnessed the counter-narrative of the marginalized people, which did not enter the mainstream and was not officially recorded. The main protagonist of the novel, Patrick, came to Toronto looking for work, and found his place among European migrants like the Macedonians, Italians, Greeks, and Finns. Through Patrick, Ondaatje records the inhuman working and living conditions of migrant workers who were denied access to the spaces they had constructed and were compelled to live in the outskirts in ghettoes. The official record did not acknowledge the contribution of the migrants in nation building, instead it prohibited the non-Anglophonic people from using their vernacular languages in public spaces, pushing them further into the margins and suppressing their voices.

KUMKUM RAY is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English Literature, G. S. College, under Jai Prakash University, Chhapra, Bihar, India. She is currently pursuing her PhD on the spatio-temporal aspects of the works of Michael Ondaatje at the Department of English, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India. Her academic interests are Postcolonial Studies, Border and Partition Literature, Diaspora, Contemporary Literary Theories, and Translation studies. She has participated in several conferences in India. She also nurtures a keen interest in human rights, social justice and gender issues.

7.35 PM to 7.50 PM:

PAPER PRESENTER: HARSH KUMAR SINGH
Graduate Student, St. Xavier’s University
PAPER TITLE: Teens, Trolls and Toxicity: The Dark Side of the Games Coop Plays in Divisadero
This paper argues that just as modern video games offer a medium of an escape from the darker, grimmer, and mundane realities of life by making players enter a virtual world, Cooper in Divisadero through the card games and poker, constructs a life out of gambling thereby trying to attain a sense of faux victory that he could not accomplish in his troubled life where he faced loss after loss. This presenter draws an analogy between the nerve-racking and sinister world of card games with that of online video games focusing on the gameplay elements, trolls, and toxicity, charting an evolution of how game forums which were once a way of passing the time and a source of enjoyment, pleasure, and a fun competition have gone on to become corrupted by the vested interests of influential figures and organizations, and also become a way of earning livelihood for the players. Coop’s having to deal with a mob boss, and Bridgette having to give Coop a shot of heroin to dull his pain are overt manifestations of the association of the violence with the game, parallels of which are found among mobile gamers who delve into the multiplayer genre, recently manifest in homicide committed by teenagers and young adults addicted to games. The addiction and preference for junk food and energy drinks while playing hours on end to get a hit of euphoria and concentrate more to win games goes on to further augment the argument.

HARSH KUMAR SINGH is a literature enthusiast from Kolkata, India who writes as the muse strikes. He is pursuing his post-graduation in English Literature from St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata. His areas of interest are Romantic Poets, Fantasy Fiction, Graphic Novels, Classical Mythology, and Video Game Studies. His favourite writers are J.R.R. Tolkien, Andrzej Sapkowski, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Stephen Fry, Lenore Kandel, Madeline Miller and many others. He has a personal blog and enjoys playing and studying video games, apart from literary texts. His poem has been published in the anthology Butterflies by ‘The Write Order’. You may check his blog: www.remlit.com or contact him at harshkumar724@gmail.com.

7.55 PM to 8.15 PM:

PAPER PRESENTER: RAKA MUKHERJEE
Independent Scholar
PAPER TITLE: A Palimpsest of Contested Identities: A Comparative Study of Ondaatje’s Divisadero and Alice Munro’s “Dulse”
ABSTRACT: In this paper I argue that the dysfunctionality projected in the past of the characters Ana in Michael Ondaatje’s Divisadero (2007) and Lydia in Alice Munro ‘s short story “ Dulse” in Moons of Jupiter (1982) and the narrative technique employed by the writers of layering experiences in order to arrive at a point of self-reflection; gesture at Ondaatje’s and Munro’s way of retelling fragments of their own past lives through the characters’ perspective. This leads to a palimpsest or a continuous retelling and re-membering of memories that blur the lines between reality and fiction. Ana and Lydia undergo psychological metamorphosis and cope with their identity crises by fixating their personal histories with the lived experiences of the poets Lucien Segura and Willa Cather, respectively. In spite of the differences in their ethnographic backgrounds, the former being a diasporic author and the latter with her Anglo Canadian roots, their writings find intersection in dealing with the genre of metafiction. They use a cyclical narrative style that contain symbols associated with memory and retelling of the past. The element of Memory therefore becomes a bridge that aids the journey that both Ana and Lydia undertake in rediscovering their personalities. There is a Bakhtinian dialogic unity in the two authors’ narrative styles through which I identify a heteroglottal similarity in their voices. The voice which echoes the human experience of coping with the trauma of the past, and reconstructing new identities, with the help of writing themselves into lives of authors’ biographical histories.

RAKA MUKHERJEE holds an M.A. in English Literature from Loreto College, University of Calcutta. Her interests are Postcolonial Literature, Feminist Literary Studies, Gender Studies, Psychoanalysis and World Literatures. She also has interest in Film Studies and theater, enjoys writing, directing and acting for the stage as well as shooting short films. Her paper “Iceberg of Innocence: Freudian Psychoanalysis in Golding’s Lord of the Flies with Characters as a Collective Conscious” was published in the Postgraduate Journal of Loreto College Kolkata, Arts Saké. Her poetry has been published in the online Anthology Figures of Thought: Collegiate Voices Across Spaces by the online bilingual magazine Setu Magazine, and Purely Platonic by The Write Order. Her article “Femme Oriental: Women ‘Looking Back’ in East and South East Asian Cinema” was published in the Autumn Issue of Rising Asia Journal. She is presently working as a Copy Editor on the Rising Asia Journal and she is preparing to pursue a PhD in postcolonial feminism and gender studies.

8.15 PM to 8.30 PM:

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

DAY TWO
September 25, 2021 at 5 P.M., India Time

5.05 PM to 5.10 PM:

INTRODUCTIONS BY THE CHAIR:
DR. JULIE BANERJEE MEHTA

5.10 PM t0 5.30 PM:

PLENARY LECTURE 1
DR. APARNA HALPÉ
Professor of English, Centennial College, Toronto
PAPER TITLE: Fatherhood as Literary Influence: Michael Ondaatje Within the Lankan Context
ABSTRACT: Michael Ondaatje receives much attention as a canonical diasporic Canadian writer, but scant attention is paid to the literary and artistic influences that shaped his voice from the mid-to-late twentieth century Sri Lankan context into which he was born. This paper provides a sketch of the Lankan literary climate of the 70s, and key figures he encountered in the period leading up to the publication of Running in the Family (1982), and the relationship he fostered, developed, and sustained with the arts and publishing industry in Sri Lanka following the success of his Booker Prize winning, The English Patient (1992).

DR. APARNA HALPÉ is professor of English at Centennial College, Toronto. Her research is on the function of myth in contemporary postcolonial fiction. Her scholarly work has appeared in Inteférances Litteraires (2015), The University of Toronto Quarterly (2016), and Confluences 1: Essays on the New Canadian Literature (2016). Her recent work on the practice of teaching and learning in the humanities appeared in The Unesco Observatory EJournal (2021), and her interview “Poetry as Radical Resistance: R. Cheran in Conversation with Aparna Halpé” with Tamil poet and activist, Cheran appears in Creative Lives: Interview with Contemporary South Asian Diaspora Writers (2021). She is co-editor, with Michael Ondaatje, of the forthcoming Lakdhas Wikkramasinha: A Selection of Poems. She is also the author of a collection of poems, Precarious (2013) and her creative writing has appeared in many journals including Postcolonial Text and Indialogst.

5.35 PM to 5.55 PM:

PLENARY LECTURE 2
DR. ISABEL ALONSO-BRETO
Lecturer in Postcolonial Studies, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and English Studies, University of Barcelona
PAPER TITLE: Reading Care in Anil’s Ghost
ABSTRACT: The ethics of care or care ethics “gives voice to the natural caring inclinations of human beings […] who exist within the psychological, biological, and practical world of human affairs” (Engster 227). Care is never far from the practical dimensions of life, it cannot be provided or understood as away from materiality. How does care feature in narratives embedded in times of conflict? What is the worth of attempting to discern caring moments in such, frequently extremely painful, narratives? In my presentation I shall address these and other questions in relation to Michael Ondaatje’s novel Anil’s Ghost, positing that in this work a texture of care is superimposed onto one of destruction and horror, and exploring different forms of care deployed by the characters and the book itself. The result is a palpable success in literary terms, but one which does not occlude the tragic moral failure inherent to any armed conflict.

ISABEL ALONSO-BRETO is a lecturer in Postcolonial Studies at the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and English Studies at the University of Barcelona. She has carried on research on several postcolonial territories, exploring works by authors of Australian, Canadian, Caribbean, Indian and South African origin, and in recent years paying special attention to Sri Lankan and Tamil literature in English. Her articles often focus on matters of cultural identity, migration and displacement. Of late her attention has turned towards the medical humanities and the ethics of care, while she keeps a sustained interest in creative writing and translation. She is the Vice-Director of the Centre for Australian and Transnational Studies at the University of Barcelona and a member of the research group Ratnakara, devoted to the study of Indian Ocean Literatures and Cultures.

6.00 PM to 6.15 PM:

PAPER PRESENTER: DR. LAKSHMI A. K.
Associate Professor, Department of English, Government Victoria College, Palakkad
PAPER TITLE: Representation of History in Anil’s Ghost
ABSTRACT: In her introduction to Still Counting the Dead, Frances Harrison recounts the ordinary people of Sri Lanka living under constant threat of suicide bombers, unable even to send their children to school: “everyone in the south knew someone who had narrowly missed a bomb blast … Tamil civilians were being bombed by the government, used as human shields by the rebels. Medics were performing amputations with no anaesthetic and watching half their patients die.” This description matches that of Anil’s Ghost, set against the background of the Sri Lankan tripartite aggression. Like Ondaatje, Harrison hints at the indifference of the Western world to the Sri Lankan problem, illustrated through the analogy of the nonchalant European tourists who visited the southern coast of the island during the decades of war. Sri Lanka continued to be a safe and affordable tourist spot that took care of her European visitors, the nation and its people constantly denying the history of the separatist struggle by remaining silent about it and the Tourism website projecting the country largely as a Buddhist nation, effectively camouflaging its multicultural and multi-religious society. This paper studies the historical context of Anil’s Ghost along with its textual representation of the fictional micro-histories of the civilian existence. By simultaneously establishing and subverting the mainstream history, the novel problematizes the official documentation of the civil war and brings out the complicities of the authorities in perpetrating war and violence. It subverts and problematizes the authoritative and infallible claims of the mainstream history and the western techniques of medicine and investigation through parallel examinations carried out by the forensic pathologist Anil Tissera, the archaeologist Sarat Diyasena, the medical practitioner Gamini Diyasena and the blind historian Palipana.

DR. LAKSHMI A. K. is presently working as Associate Professor at the Department of English, Govt. Victoria College, Palakkad, an institution affiliated to the University of Calicut. Till date, she has 16 years of teaching service. She is awarded PhD by the University of Calicut on “Historical Appropriations in the Postmodern Migrant Literature: A Reading of the Select Novels of Kazuo Ishiguro and Michael Ondaatje”. Other than postmodern literature, her research interests include cultural studies, historical appropriations, postcolonial literature and migrant fiction. She has presented research papers in both national and international seminars, published research articles in many peer reviewed national and international journals and participated in seminars and conferences of both national and international stature.

6.15 PM to 6.30 PM:

DISCUSSANT: DR. JULIE MEHTA

6.35 PM to 7.05 PM:

KEYNOTE LECTURE BY PROFESSOR MARLENE GOLDMAN
Department of English, University of Toronto
Dr. Marlene Goldman is a Professor in the Department of English at the University of Toronto and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, who specializes in Canadian literature, age studies, and medical humanities. She recently completed a book entitled Forgotten: Age- Related Dementia and Alzheimer’s in Canadian Literature on the intersection between narrative and pathological modes of forgetting associated with trauma, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease (McGill-Queen’s Press, 2017). She is currently writing a book entitled Performing Shame: Simulating Stigmatized Minds and Bodies. In addition to her scholarly works, she has also written, directed, and produced a short film about dementia entitled “Piano Lessons” based on Alice Munro’s short story “In Sight of the Lake” from her collection Dear Life (2004). Her latest film, “Torching the Dusties” about aging and intergenerational warfare from Margaret Atwood’s recent collection Stone Mattress (2014) premiered at the Fright Festival in London, UK. She is the author of Paths of Desire (University of Toronto Press, 1997), Rewriting Apocalypse (McGill-Queen’s Press, 2005), and (Dis)Possession (McGill-Queen’s Press 2011).

KEYNOTE LECTURE ABSTRACT
The Art of “Gothic-Detection” in Ondaatje’s Corpus
Michael Ondaatje’s troubled relationship with his father is powerfully evoked in “Letters and Other Worlds,” a poem in which the narrator likens his father’s body to “a globe of fear.” In an effort to forge a connection with the enigmatic, deceased paternal figure, the elegiac poem’s narrator and, by extension, the reader assumes the role of detective-therapist. In my talk, I will explore how Ondaatje’s preoccupation with understanding mentally unstable parental figure, and the father in particular, extended into his fiction in novels ranging from Coming Through Slaughter to Anil’s Ghost. In the latter, the narrative embarks on a related but more ambitious and overarching attempt to understand a traumatized nation. By tracing links between elements of the Gothic and the art of detection in Ondaatje’s corpus, I argue that the authors’ work engenders and relies on a hermeneutics perhaps best described as “gothic-detection”; what begins as a process of revealing hidden facets of an individual is ultimately mapped onto an entire nation whose inhabitants are traumatized by a “scarring psychosis.”

7.10 PM to 7.25 PM:

PAPER PRESENTER: GIFTY JOSEPH
Guest Lecturer, St. Joseph’s College
PAPER TITLE: Scarred Psyches and Mutilated Bodies: Trauma in Anil’s Ghost
ABSTRACT: This paper analyzes Anil’s Ghost in the light of the Sri Lankan civil war that has been traumatic in nature, triggering suffering and repression. The key argument revolves around how trauma is policed by the authorities in the novel. The link between biopolitics and trauma is also explored in the context of the novel, especially with reference to Foucault, Agamben and Roberto Esposito. This paper examines the interrelationships between trauma, memory, governmentality, and biopolitics. In one sense, trauma denotes a recurring sense of absence which is rooted in the process of remembering. Anil’s Ghost assumes a humanitarian role in describing the trauma inflicted upon the common population of Sri Lanka. Trauma is generally seen as an unsolvable problem of the unconscious. But trauma theory in literature has taken a pluralistic turn. The profound suffering from an external source is inevitably characterized as trauma. In this paper, rhetorical, social and cultural concerns of trauma are read in association with Anil’s Ghost. Trauma’s influence on language, perception and society percolates into representations of trauma in literature. It is evident that trauma causes a “disruption and reorientation of consciousness” (Balev 2014). The values attached to traumatic experiences are governed by individual, social and cultural factors. In the end, trauma is rooted in the process of remembering as memory has an inextricable bond with the experience of trauma.

GIFTY JOSEPH works as a guest lecturer at St. Joseph’s college, Moolamattom. She is interested in the ruptures of trauma theory in literature as well as postcolonial theory read in civil wars and racism across the world. She has published papers based on gender studies, post truth, and folklore. She focuses on humanitarian issues expressed through literature such as the traumatic experiences faced by the underprivileged and disadvantaged sections in society. She completed her graduation in English Language and Literature in 2017, and her post-graduation in 2019. She is interested in creative writing and her area of research is Native American literature. She is also interested in theoretical frameworks such as affect studies, uncanny theory, and performance theory. She pursues a variety of interests such as reading plays, writing poetry, and random photography.

7.30 PM to 7.45 PM:

PAPER PRESENTER: MOHINI MAUREEN PRADHAN
Independent Scholar
PAPER TITLE: Subversive Art and History in The English Patient and Divisadero
ABSTRACT: This paper argues that Ondaatje uses art as a subversive tool through which he presents his interpretation on thematic ideas such as the Freudian concept of the Absent Father and his vision of multiculture, and as a medium to present the condition of the world and its people in the Second World War. He portrays art in a unique manner—it is neither the focus not at the periphery, but it is an integral part of his vision. Ondaatje not only portrays visual art, but also uses poetry to achieve this goal. In The English Patient, he invokes the legendary figure of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio and refers to the paintings of Pico Della Francesca, presenting Italian Renaissance and landscape art and the history as they relate to a world undergoing a transition under the disastrous effects of war. His novel Divisadero employs paintings signifying the idea of a cruel patriarch, through the works of Ilya Repin and Nikolai Ge. Art not only generates an aesthetic effect, as Ondaatje explains in “Mongrel Art,” but it also acts as medium to present the social conditions of his characters. In this paper, I will analyze these themes through the assessment of Sam Solecki, when he argues that these elements are at the “… heart of Ondaatje’s Vision” in his novels. In Divisadero, the author uses paintings to symbolize destructive filial relationships, where violence is inflicted by the father figure, in complete contrast to his primary role of being a protector.

MOHINI MAUREEN PRADHAN was born in Kolkata and has lived all her life in the city. She has completed her graduation and her master’s degree in English Language and Literature from Loreto College, Kolkata. She is interested in the realms of history, mythology, art, music and cinema. She is a copyeditor for the Rising Asia Journal and has written a paper on “Feminism and Human Rights,” co-authored with Anuska Sarkar, and published on webplatform4dialogue.net. She has also co-authored a paper titled “Power and the Archive in the Works of William Somerset Maugham” that traces the concept of the archive by Jacques Derrida and the relationship of power between the characters of Maugham. Her fascination with Michael Ondaatje’s works came in the form of her New Literatures paper which featured The English Patient. Part of her interest lies in Ondaatje writing historiographic metafiction, which he complements with his use of art and literary texts. She is currently preparing for the Union Public Service Examination.

7.50 PM to 8.05 PM:

PAPER PRESENTER: HUSSENA CALCUTTAWALA
Independent Scholar
PAPER TITLE: The English Patient as Representation of History: Novel versus Film
ABSTRACT: This paper analyzes and contrasts The English Patient (1992) with its film adaptation (1996, screenplay/director: Anthony Minghella) by studying the role and representation of History and Historiography in the book and the film vis-à-vis the characters of László Almásy, Katharine Clifton, and Geoffrey Clifton. The paper delves into the ruptures, divergences, and convergences present in the book and the film on the broad themes of history and historical spaces. The paper demonstrates how Minghella solves the problem of turning a good book into a good movie by altering the book enough to leave behind its literary merits and transform them into cinematic ones, which he does by recreating the book’s mood by inventing events that Ondaatje did not need to write about. The paper shows how history can be enriched significantly in light of Hayden White’s thesis that the philosophies of history are indispensable elements in historiography because for him history is not simply a list of chronological events. The discourse highlights how Minghella manages to be largely faithful to the spirit of the novel while giving it more shape and explicitness, virtually reinventing it from the ground up in order to create, what he believes is, “epic cinema of a personal nature.”

HUSSENA CALCUTTAWALA, born in Chennai and raised in Kolkata, obtained her Master of Arts degree in English Literature from Loreto College affiliated to the University of Calcutta. She has worked as a Web Content Writer and Editor for several start-up firms and is presently working as a Digital Media Manager and Content Strategist at NowPurchase. She is also a contributing Copy Editor and Research Assistant at Rising Asia Journal. She has co-authored an academic paper on William Somerset Maugham’s short stories entitled “Theorizing Maugham’s Short Stories - The Global Vision of a Storyteller,” which was presented at an online webinar organized by the Department of English, Loreto College. Her fields of interest include Diasporic Literature, Feminist Studies, Film Studies, Gender Studies, Indian Literature, Postcolonial Literature, and World Literatures. She is also a film aficionado and loves art, fashion, music, photography, travel, and writing. She plans to pursue a PhD in Film Studies and become a published author.

8.10 PM to 8.25 PM:

PAPER PRESENTER: AYUSHI RAY
Independent Scholar
PAPER TITLE: The Colonized Sikh Warrior in the Land of the Colonizer
This paper problematizes the Sikh participation in the Second World War, which is the setting of The English Patient, while locating within the combat the character, Kirpal Singh, whom Ondaatje presents as a diasporic warrior. Kirpal, an Indian Sikh soldier sent off to fight for the British colonizers readily performs his military duties, but at the end of the novel he becomes aware of Western racism following the US atomic bombing of Japan. At the beginning of his journey, too, he was segregated from the white soldiers as he came under the colonial gaze. Khushwant Singh in his book A History of the Sikhs, volume 2 explains that the main aim of the Sikhs participating in the Second World War was to get a separate nation. Kirpal’s appearance in the novel comes across as a surprise because in postcolonial literature the Sikhs are usually represented blasting bombs, not defusing them. The Sikhs offered undiluted support for Britain in the Second World War because obviously they had no intention of losing their position in the Indian armed forces.

AYUSHI RAY has completed her Master’s Degree in English Literature from Loreto College, University of Calcutta. She has done her BA with Honours in English Literature from Bethune College, University of Calcutta. Her research interest lies in Postcolonial Literature and Feminist Literature. She pursues a variety of interests such as reading and writing poetry and fiction. Her poem has been published in the anthology Poets of India by The Write Order.

8.25 PM to 8.35 PM:

The Poetics of Michael Ondaatje

8.35 PM to 8.50 PM:

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

CYNTHIA VANDEN DRIESEN completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Ceylon and doctoral studies at the University of Western Australia. She has taught at universities in Asia, Africa, and Australia. Her research interests lie in the fields of Australian, Indian, and West African postcolonial literatures. Her publications include ten books. Her most recent sole-authored work is Writing the Nation: Patrick White and the Indigene (2009), and her latest (co-edited) work is Patrick White Centenary—The Legacy of a Prodigal Son (2014). She was Founding President of ASAA (Association for the Study of Australasia in Asia, established in 1997) for several years, and is currently an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia.

JULIE BANERJEE MEHTA holds M.A. and PhD degrees in English Literature and South Asian Studies from the University of Toronto. Her Master’s thesis entitled “Being Gaijin and Being Female in the Sakoku Culture of Japan” explores the Japanese works by Meira Chand, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Pico Iyer. Julie was born in Calcutta and educated at Irish convents—Loreto House and Loreto College—and then at Jadavpur University Calcutta, where she received her first Master’s degree in English Literature. She worked as a literary reviewer and features editor in Australia, Singapore, and Bangkok. A specialist in Postcolonial and World Literatures, she conceptualized and taught the Chancellor Emerita Vivienne Poy-endowed course on Asian Literatures and Cultures in Asia for nearly a decade in the Canadian Studies Program, and in the Department of English at the University of Toronto, and received several prestigious fellowships. Her translation of Tagore’s play Dak Ghar/Post Office was performed by Pleiades Theatre, Toronto, in 2010 to critical acclaim and earned her the title of “One of Sixteen most Influential South Asians in Canada.” She is the author of Dance of Life: The Mythology, History, and Politics of Cambodian Culture, and the best-selling biography of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (with Harish Mehta). Her major publications are “Toronto’s Multicultured Tongues: Stories of South Asian Cuisines,” in Edible Histories, Cultural Politics: Towards a Canadian Food History, University of Toronto Press, 2012; “Hybrid Brown Gaijin is a ‘Distinguished Alien’ in Sakoku Japan” in Narrating Race: Asia, (Trans)Nationalism, Social Change, Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, 2011; “Ondaatje’s Impertinent Voices: Tracking Family Ties to Remember History,” in Australasia-Asia: Change, Conflict and Convergence, Swan-Longmans, 2010; “Reconfiguring the Feminine: The Real, Reel, and Riel Life of Neang Seda (Sita) in the Khmer Ramayana,” in The International Ramayana Collection, National Heritage Board, Singapore, 2010; “Being Gaijin and Being Female in the Sakoku Culture of Japan: Cultural Exile in Meira Chand’s The Gossamer Fly,” in Writing Asia: The Literatures in Englishes, Volume 1: From the Inside, Singapore: Ethos Books, 2007; and “The Ramayana in Thai and Khmer Culture,” in Ramayana Revisited, New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

HARISH C. MEHTA holds a PhD from McMaster University in Canada in the history of American foreign relations and Southeast Asia, with specializations in the twentieth-century history of China, and Christian-Muslim Encounters in the Early Modern World. He did graduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of four books on Cambodian politics and media, and the Vietnam War (Cambodia Silenced: The Press Under Six Regimes, White Lotus, Bangkok and Cheney, 1997; Warrior Prince: Norodom Ranariddh, Son of King Sihanouk of Cambodia, Graham Brash, Singapore, 2001; Strongman: The Extraordinary Life of Hun Sen, Marshall Cavendish, Singapore, 2013; and People’s Diplomacy of Vietnam: Soft Power in the Resistance War, 1965-1972, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2019. His articles on Vietnamese diplomacy have appeared in the academic journals International History Review, Diplomatic History, Peace and Change, The Historian, and History Compass, and his review articles have appeared in H-Diplo. He has taught history at McMaster, the University of Toronto, and Trent University. He has twice won the Samuel Flagg Bemis research award from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, and has received the Asian Print Media Write Award from the Asian Media Information and Communication Center, Singapore, and a Freedom Forum Fellowship, Washington, DC, among other awards. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Rising Asia Journal. Harish is a former Senior Indochina Correspondent for the Business Times of Singapore, and he was based in Singapore and Thailand for seventeen years, covering both Southeast Asia and Asean.