Shyaonti Talwar


"Another world is not only possible. She is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing."
- Arundhati Roy

Research Papers

The Lord of the Flies: an Ethnocentric and Ecophobic Project


Ecocriticism is a literary study of the interaction between humans and nature as presented and documented in a text. One of the primary objectives of an ecocritical reading of a literary text is to find out if the author explicitly or implicitly furthers, endorses or reinforces a particular attitude or an outlook towards nature or represents nature in a particular manner which could in turn influence, determine or define the reader’s perception of and interaction with nature and the environment.

This paper engages in a close ecocritical reading of William Golding’s novel The Lord of the Flies and finds a trace of ecophobia in the narrative. Likewise it analyses the politics of representation of Nature which is shorn of all vitality and reduced to a functional entity in the narrative and is merely used as a prop to serve a utilitarian purpose in complementing the plot of the novel.

Keywords: Nature, dualism, consumable, dehumanize, territorialize, homocentric.

Mythicising women who make a choice: a prerogative of the Indian collective unconscious to demarcate modesty and right conduct for women


The Indian woman’s predicament is that whenever she displays the power to make a human choice, she is either mythicised and turned into a supernatural being or glorified and put on a pedestal to be worshipped so that there is a sense of separateness or a distance between her and the multitudes of her gender she represents. Some of these women possess the license of divinity while others are compellingly associated with the divine. Sati defies societal norms to marry an unconventional suitor, Radha is a consort out of her wedlock, Kunti and subsequently Draupadi bear children fathered by different men, Shakuntala has a son out of wedlock like her mother Menaka, Damayanti organizes a second swayamvara for herself while Meera languishes in the erotic fantasies of an invisible lover. The fact that these women are worshipped/revered/glorified /mythicised is a strong message forbidding the Indian woman to replicate their acts without being incriminated and brings out the inherent paradox and duplicity that determine and lay the rules of a woman’s conduct in Indian society.

Keywords: archetype, Indian mythology, mythological women, chastity, recurring, divinity, retelling, mythicise, role model.

Problematising Characterization and the representation of Evil in the genre of Crime Fiction


The genre of Crime Fiction has invariably and persistently continued to intrigue and captivate the reader-consumer through centuries ever since the novel, as a form of writing gained ground in the post industrialization era. Despite this, the genre is generally marginalized in the realm of academic study. Crime Fiction acquired sophistication over a period of time from gory tales with Gothic elements to becoming a technically viable and textured piece of work with the introduction/inclusion of complex elements like motive, modus operandi, alibi, etc. nothing to speak of the intricacies of plot and setting. With an essentially cosmopolitan and urban and sometimes feudal flavor, the genre captivated a major chunk of the literate middle class population offering a kind of respite and escape from the drudgery and monotony of city life. This article aims to problematize the genre of Crime Fiction which in conforming to binary representations, presents the world and its inmates in solid uncompromising shades of black and white, offers a logic for every action, an explanation for every crime, ties all loose ends, leaves no stone unturned and in fact leaves almost nothing for the discerning reader to deliberate over, beyond the last page. This paper attempts a critical analysis of the genre’s foregrounding and representation of evil in isolation and as an anomaly locating it in one particular individual and thereby effacing the many shades of evil that plague any society. Likewise it looks at the way of some of the most endearing crime solvers have been conceived whose characterization has immortalized and almost deified them. The paper also looks at gender stereotypes in Crime Fiction and traces it to contemporary crime series on television. It refrains from tracing the origin and history of crime fiction and restricts its analysis to three legendary crime solvers in fiction and two on television trying to trace the underlying sameness in pattern and progression to scaffold the argument it presents.

Keywords: Crime Fiction, detective novel plot, crime and society.

A study of unresolved masculinities in Toni Morrison’s Paradise and the Bluest Eye: the impossibility of exorcism


All gendered behavior is after all a performance. Feminine and masculine manifestations of identities from communities are collective in nature and susceptible to stereotyping and typecasting by the judging gaze of the outsider. But there is a reason for them to be so. Newly emerging identities as a result of socio-political liberation with an evolving awareness of the self and a newfound consciousness undergo a sustained tension between the past trauma borne by their marginalized and oppressed community on the one hand and internalization and emulation of hegemonic behavior and ideology of the colonizing master on the other. The present paper attempts to trace this tension in the colonized self as ‘Other’ hinting at the impossibility of an exorcised consciousness. The paper looks closely at the performative masculinities in two of Toni Morrison’s novels The Bluest Eye and Paradise trying to go beyond gender stereotypes to the agonized, warped and claustrophobia ridden consciousness of the black man.

Keywords:spectrality, trauma, performative, racial oppression, masculinity, gender anxiety.

Mahashweta Devi’s Mother of 1084: Disrupting the Normative Hegemonic Institution of the Family


The paper incorporates a slightly Marxist feminist perspective that basically works on the premise that we are all agents in the production cycle like cogs in a wheel and we have different roles to play to keep the production cycle going and all institutions and arrangements in society that we see are determined by economics. Men and women through their different roles in the cycle of production create a society which in turn shapes them. Marriage is a contract which has economic reasons and the family acquires the status of a hegemonic institution because it is instrumental in facilitating production and in furthering the interest and the material wellbeing of the state. The man works for the state, the woman works for the man and she also reproduces so in other words she brings in more workers or caretakers which will contribute to this cycle of production.

The paper looks at Mother of 1084 to see how Devi is trying to disrupt the family as a hegemonic institution and critiquing its functioning just as a mere tool of the state which undermines individual growth and well-being of a person. Because they belong to a particular social class, the Bengali bhadralok or the bourgeoisie their actions and reactions and even the dynamics within the family are determined and governed by their class consciousness.

Devi, through this model of a dysfunctional family, exposes the decay and the damage which submission to the state machinery can cause to a family and how the family in turn because of its puppetlike existence can be detrimental to the well-being of the individual, how it can lead to estrangement and frigidity and ostracism and marginalisation and finally death.

And the paper attempts a very close reading of the text to substantiate and consolidate this argument.

Keywords:hegemony, family, Marxist feminist, bourgeoisie, subversion.

The Discourse of Silence in Roy’s The God of Small Things


Roy’s TGOTS when it first came out was openly criticised by critics who saw it as a project in linguistic flamboyance and verbal excess. And yet the silence of the marginalised and that of the castaways in the novel attains symbolic significance to foreground the absence and impossibility of a discourse. Roy denies her characters a language, a tongue to speak in and articulate their desires and their agonies. In the face of a crisis her castaways, the lesser mortals that populate her novel take refuge in silence. The act of denying language to her characters on Roy’s part implies that certain people who belong to certain categories or certain people who lead a non-normative life have no voice and no language to talk about their situation. They are always spoken about, spoken to. There is a discourse surrounding them but this discourse dehumanises them. It denies them a subject status. Even when they have an opportunity to emote or verbalise they are unable to find a voice or an appropriate language to articulate. They are so irreversibly alienated from language that they prefer to withdraw in the realm of silence, opting out of the Symbolic order.

If discourse is a systematic and institutionalised way of speaking and writing about things then not speaking about it implies absence of a discourse. However a systematic description of the nature of silence in the mode of a narrative of a muted people has the germ of a discourse. Through the silence of her characters Roy creates a strong and powerful discourse of the subjugated the marignalised and the invisibilised.

By not choosing to describe or rationalise or validate and by maintaining a studied silence the narrator seems to be engaging in the same powerful discourse of silence turning a handicap into a weapon to contest the discursive laws and structures of power. She resists from entering a discourse to give agency to action and not words. Discourse will only try to monitor, and regularise and institutionalise and then make hegemonial certain practices. The core truth of human identity the shapes desire can take should not be channelled through the constricting tributaries of discourse which will try to outline them or assign a shape a position and a structure to them. By rejecting the refuge of language, Roy is giving discourse the slip. By not giving a language to her characters, by denying them the right to a discourse, Roy is actually attacking the hegemonic discourse and creating a counter-discourse of silence thus subverting and turning the dominant discourse on its head so much so that it actually begins to sound incoherent. Silence becomes a weapon of resistance, a tool of ignorance, an intriguing and a fascinating shroud.

Textual Transsexuality: A Soft Eclipse as the Site of Invasion, Encroachment and Anatomical Fixation


A male-to-female transsesxual is a biological male desiring to change at least some of her bodily characteristics of sex to female characteristics of sex or who finds an incongruence between her “inner” gender and “outer” sex and has a desire to express her gender through alternate significations, such as body modifications, cross-dressing and gender/sex blurred identifications. Transsexual, as a person who desires to change aspects of the biological sex of their bodies in order to “be” gender, relies on and is inseparable from the signified of the body and subject, which is always, already sexed – there is no body that is not already sexed ….The body and subject, however, is an unstable site, constituted in and through the structure of narrative, which we continually take as the “real”.

Jodi Kaufmann
Transfiguration: A Narrative Analysis of male-to-female transsexual in Georgia

If transsexuality is an inclination, a decision or a move to transcend or transform one’s sexuality and sexual identity and embody another sex, largely a male phenomenon1 (if one were to look at statistics and empirical data), an intimate account of female experience and ‘being’ in a female world and female space by a male author, embodying the central female subject within a narrative space and articulating from that political position replete with several interpolations of class, ethnicity, region and caste could be regarded as textual transsexuality or a literary sex change. This paper aims to explore Jayabrato Chatterjee’s, A Soft Eclipse2 in the light of this argument which is a first person account of a woman about other women by a male author who takes a very strong subject position throughout the discourse leaving no possibility of a trajectory of another being or ambiguity in the position.

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