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Keynote Speaker: Joanne Shattock, Emeritus Professor, Department of English, University of Leicester: “Journalism and Literature: Contested Professions”

Professor Joanne Shattock presents a detailed historical account of the spurt of
professionalization that became imbued in the field of journalism, in nineteenth-
century England. Essentially tracing the trajectory that moves from the era of the
‘grub-street’ and penny-a- line to the commercialization of journalism, Shattock
starts from the roots.
Gibbons Merle refers to the word journalism in 1833, within his periodical
Westminster Review. His main context: the lamentable lack of journalism’s
respectability in England, whereas other European countries (France, in
particular) had latched on to its diversifying abilities. It takes almost 20 years for
the British Empire to recognize journalism as a veritable profession, with G.H.
Lewes finally asserting that literature had started gaining renewed status as a
profession- as lucrative as “the bar, or the church” because of the popularity and
support provided by reviews, magazines and journals. Moreover, the advent of
periodical literatur…

Grimms’ Fairy Tales: An Influence on Collection of Bengali Folktales

Grimms’ Fairy Tales (originally called Children’s and Household Tales) , a collection of fairy tales first published in 1812 by the Grimm brothers play an integral role in
inspiring the collection of folklore all around the world. Although the retelling of folk stories in Europe date back to 16 th century Italy and 17 th century French parlors,
the collection by Grimm Brothers’ was the one which introduced folk stories widely to the European masses. The legacy of the Grimm Brothers’ on nineteenth-
century Bengal was the subject of the paper ‘The Grimm Brothers’ Legacy’ presented by Prof. Amrita Chakraborty.
Prof. Chakraborty starts her presentation by stating that there have been several myths surrounding this collection, the major being that the brothers went to
collect folk tales from the peasant community themselves. This idea arises from the notion that folklore is generally associated with the lower members of the
society. These people who keep the tradition of folk tales of any…
“…He has got this wonderful intimate relationship with Tryphena and then he discovers he is committing
incest, he was shocked...you know that could be really traumatic…”

-Rosemarie Morgan (in an interview just after the

Keynote Lecture)

Professor Rosemarie Morgan’s remarkable and fascinating lecture on “Pathways of the Past: Visual
Imprinting, Episodic Memory, and Hardy’s Wonder of Women” was uniformly thought provoking as well
as engaging. She primarily focused on the significance of Tryphena in Thomas Hardy’s life, both as a
human being and as an artist. She, in relation to him was his niece but emotionally, psychologically and
sexually a much more seminal influence on his life, as the implied indication of the sentence goes.
Beginning with a conceptual note on memory formation, epigenetics and Hardy’s interest in folklore,
Professor Morgan went on to talk about how Tryphena figured in diverse ways in the portrayal of the

female protagonists in his fiction, particularly in the depi…

On PAT ENDINGS AND NARRATIVES OF FAILED EMIGRATION, by Tamara Wagner

Victorian literature abounds with examples of the threats represented by immigrants to the British
society. Anxiety, fear of the Other, desperate attempts at maintaining racial superiority were chief issues
of the day. However, few scholars have pointed out that the emigration of British men and women to
the colonies just as much changed the dynamics of the society and culture.

In her quite interesting paper, Professor Wagner talks at length about the the 'systematic emigration' of
middle class women, who usually had limited means. The Female Middle Class Emigration Society, set
up in 1864, sought to ship young, mostly middle class women, abroad to colonies like Australia and New
Zealand in an attempt to address the problem of 'redundant women'- or superfluous women, who were
left with little marriage prospects following the migration of a large number of British men to the
colonies.

The emigration writings propelled in popular fiction harped on the pr…

FORTIFYING A NATURALIST’S BODY IN VICTORIAN INDIA: DESIRE, LOATHING AND HUMOUR IN E.H AITKEN’S NATURAL HISTORY: A PAPER BY RAJARSHI MITRA

Professor Rajarshi Mitra, in his fascinating paper, talks about the 19 th century naturalist E.H
Aitken and how his writings capture the beauty of the tropical forests of India while
criticizing the colonial reality. Edward Hamilton Aitken came to India as a civil servant. He
spent almost fifty five years in India. He was one of the founding members of the Bombay
Natural History Society. During an expedition to Goa, Aitken discovered a new species of
anopheline mosquito, which was named Anopheles aitkeni after him. With achievements
like such, we can obviously assume that Aitken was a natural historian who was enthralled
by the flora and fauna of colonial India. Aitken reveals the jarring mixture of compassion,
violence and sense of superiority the Victorians had towards the natural world. Professor
Mitra observes the world of the colonizers to be an anthro-centric one, with man at the
authoritarian position and all the animals and plants subservient to his will, much like Adam
in Ge…

On the keynote lecture “Revolution in the Rearview Mirror: Irish Autobiographies of the Revolutionary Years”, by Karen Steele

One of the keynote speakers Prof. Karen Steele delivered the Harendralal Basak Memorial
Lecture on “Irish Autobiographies of the Revolutionary Years”. In the light of approaching
centenary of Irish War of Independence there has been an increased focus on the Irish
Revolution, such as the 2016 season ‘Waking the Nation’ at the Abbey theatre in Dublin.
However, Prof. Steele pointed out that there has been a persistent cultural amnesia regarding
women in the revolution. She talked about political activism of Irish revolutionaries through
a critical reading of their autobiographies, especially those of women, as revolutionary life
was deeply gendered. A recurring theme in her lecture was the contrast between the
autobiographies of men and women involved in revolution – while men viewed their own
developments in terms of the nation’s destiny, women’s life stories formed the marginalized,
non-canonical counter-histories of colonial modernity. Solitary exploits were pivotal to men’s
autobio…

On (Pseudo) Science as Colonial Tools:Interrogating Nineteenth Century Phrenology and Criminology, by Samrat Laskar

Dr. Samrat Laskar in his paper entitled (Pseudo) Science as Colonial Tools:Interrogating
Nineteenth Century Phrenology and Criminology critiques and questions the validity of the

claims of Phrenology as a branch of Western Science. In stark contrast to indigenous
knowledge, Western Science has often legitimised is superiority on the basis of empiricism and
rational deductions. However, as Dr. Laskar argued that Phrenology soon became a tool
against the colonial subjects, and its pseudo - scientific inferences were attacked and contested.
Although the paper did not elaborate the ways in which Phrenology, which once had its heyday
also regulated practices in penology, yet it is quite conceivable as to how it assumed the status
of a crude imperialist tool and governed criminal laws. However, it was quite a surprise to note
that even the colonial subjects extended their support or participated either voluntarily or
involuntarily in what they saw as an emerging branch in the discourse of …