Literature & the Pursuit of Scholarly Excellence (Alumna Interaction: 12)

Literature & the Pursuit of Scholarly Excellence

The Dept. of English organized the 12th Alumna Interaction Session on 8 May, 2021. Megha Sharma from the class of 2017 was invited to speak on the topic "Literature & the Pursuit of Scholarly Excellence". 

Ms. Megha explored the study of Literature and the prerequisites for literary research. She highlighted many important points that help one in critically studying Literature, eg. a firm grip over the text in consideration, including its background, and author; and, the development of the overarching perspective that looks across theoretical boundaries and allows for a scholarly understanding of what she called "multiple realities". She illustrated some well-known texts to show how often the implicit details remain untouched but must be taken into account. She pointed out, for example, Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, the story of a young girl achieving emancipation, as also having scattered elements of plantation and slavery. Similarly, Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe can be studied as an objective memoir. With such deep insights, the speaker also discussed the significance of the awareness of the gap between one's understanding of Literature and its historical and contemporary implications. This gap, she noted, gives more space for better analysis and deeper research.

Ms. Megha further talked about the more nuanced aspects of Literature such as graphic novels, comic books, films and even memes and graffiti, and elaborated on how such newer perspectives have transformed Literature from being just on the page to becoming a medium of communication. She foscussed especially on Film and Memory studies, as her chosen field of research. Citing examples from Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children to the movie Drishyam, she highlighted concepts such as alternative realities and the Coleridgean "willing suspension of disbelief." To end her talk, the speaker placed 'memory' and 'forgetting' in the real world socio-political frame to indicate the wider ramifications of such concepts.

The talk was followed by an interactive session wherein questions and observations were exchanged. The speaker also talked about her own research on Shyam Benegal's films and listed out some interesting theories and articles related to film and memory studies, some of them being Julia Kristeva's theories of subjectivity, Edward Said's essay entitled "Invention, Memory, and Place", and Fentress and Wickham's Social Memory. The session, thus, turned out to be an insightful exploration of literature and research.