PhD Topics in English Literature

PhD in English Literature is the ultimate opportunity for the students to train themselves and get equipped with research skills to become potential researchers. The criterion for obtaining the degree is that their thesis must represent a real contribution to the existing knowledge by conducting a significant research. The discipline supports students to develop research projects in their choice of period, author, or book of English Literature. The research can be conducted on Medieval, Renaissance, Enlightenment, Romantic, or the 19th and 20th centuries along with its literary critical analysis. It may involve interdisciplinary projects across the School of literature, languages, and cultures.

The key to successful research lies in asking a valid and valuable research topic which can sufficiently explore the particular area. To come up with a viable topic, intellectual preoccupation, curiosity and exploration like reading, thinking, discussing makes up the preliminary research. We, at Thesis India, have formed a team of research consultants to help you do the same. Our research experts are specialized in English Literature and helped over 3400 students in generating well-defined PhD research topics. They have provided PhD topics in English Literature to exemplify the quality of our topic selection service.

Sample PhD topics in English Literature:

  • The role of African literary responses to Racism: an examination of the works of Maya Angelou
  • Exclusion and Silence: variables in the post 9/11 South Asian fiction
  • Illustrations of masculinity: A comparative study between pre-independence and post-independence Indian novels
  • Talking points: Surrealism in Arun Kolatkar’s poetry
  • Between tradition and modernity: Through the lens of Tagore’s Gora

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Phd Thesis English Literature Topics

 phd thesis english literature topics.

PHD Thesis English Literature topics available here , anyone can start writing thesis according to their views on behalf of their interest and experience.   See its hard to choose the topic for your thesis writing but its as easy as you think the reality of every indian society. As we can see English Literature Influenced from the culture and politics of England and all the writers have presented their views on their history , war and politics.

Influence of Indian Ancient Literature on English Literature
Sons and Lovers As The Poetry of Love In Fiction: A Study
Indian Classical Epics
Method of Teaching English Literature
Dancing through English Literature
Women Writers and the Survey of English Literature: A Proposal and Annotated Bibliography for Teachers
Seventeenth-Century English Literature on Painting
The Influence of the Bible on English Literature
The Neoclassical Period in English Literature: A Psychological Definition
The Scope of English Literature in Education
John Ruskin: Master of English Literature
The Influence of Darwin on Literature
Medieval English Literature and the Idea of the Anthology
Islam in Medieval and Early Modern English Literature: A Select Bibliography
English Literary Studies, Women’s Studies and Feminism in India
Nature in English Poetry of the Eighteenth Century
English Literature Becomes a University Subjects King’s College, London as Pioneer
The Development of English Prose from Elizabeth to Victoria Period
Colonialist Nationalism in the Critical Practice of Indian Writing in English: A Critique
Three Women’s Texts and a Criticism of Imperialism
Dancing through the Minefield: Some Observations on the Theory, Practice and Politics of a Feminist Literary Criticism
A Survey of Jungian Literary Criticism in English
Stylistics and the Theory of Literature
Dialogics as an Art of Discourse in Literary Criticism
Romantic Criticism and the Meanings of the French Revolution
Three Women’s Texts and a Critique of Imperialism
Navigating the Wide Sargasso Sea: Colonial History, English Fiction, and British Empire
Angela Carter’s “The Bloody Chamber” and the Decolonization of Feminine Sexuality
Unaccommodated Woman and the Poetics of Property in Jane Eyre
Medieval Feminism in Middle English Studies: A Retrospective
Nature in English Poetry of the 21 st Century  
English Literary Studies, Women’s Studies and Feminism in India
Where are the Mothers in Shakespeare? Options for Gender Representation in the English Renaissance
“Mirror, Mirror on the Wall”: Readers’ Reflections on Literature through Literary Theories
Writing the Discipline: A Generic History of English Studies
Constructing an Interdisciplinary Course on Literature and Environmental Feminism
What Has Never Been: An Overview of Lesbian Feminist Literary Criticism
Expanding the Archives of Global Feminisms Narratives of Feminism and Activism
A Map for Rereading: Or, Gender and the Interpretation of Literary Texts
Comparatist Trends within Literary Studies (1914–1950)
English in North America Accounting for its Evolution
American Indian Literature and a Legacy of Misappropriation
Tribal Strengths and American Indian Students
Literary Representation Partition in Indian & Pakistani Novels in English
NISSIM EZEKIEL: The Father of Contemporary Indian English Poetry
Anglo-Indian English: A Nativized Variety of Indian English
Glimpsing a “Lesbian” Poetics in “Twelfth Night”
Women and Migration: The Social Consequences of Gender
Unfallen Marriage and the Fallen Imagination in Paradise Lost
Medieval Feminism in Middle English Studies: A Retrospective
Recent Studies in the English Renaissance
Renaissance in Indian English Literature
Ideology of Indian Common Women

Phd Thesis English Literature Topics is that the ultimate opportunity for the scholars to coach themselves and obtain equipped with research skills to become potential researchers. The criterion for obtaining the degree is that their thesis must represent a true contribution to the prevailing knowledge by conducting a big research. The discipline supports students to develop research projects in their choice of period, author, or book of English Literature. Phd Thesis English Literature Topics , The research are often conducted on Medieval, Renaissance, Enlightenment, Romantic, or the 19th and 20th centuries along side its literary critical appraisal . Phd Thesis English Literature Topics , it's going to involve interdisciplinary projects across the varsity of literature, languages, and cultures.

The key to successful research lies in asking a legitimate and valuable research topic which may sufficiently explore the actual area. Phd Thesis English Literature Topics , to return up with a viable topic, intellectual preoccupation, curiosity and exploration like reading, thinking, discussing makes up the preliminary research. We, at Thesis India, have formed a team of research consultants to assist you are doing an equivalent . Our research experts are specialized in English Literature and helped over 3400 students in generating well-defined PhD research topics. they need provided PhD topics in English Literature to exemplify the standard of our topic selection service.


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Dissertations / Theses on the topic 'India, fiction'

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Consult the top 50 dissertations / theses for your research on the topic 'India, fiction.'

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Durdana, Benazir. "Muslim India in Anglo-Indian fiction /." The Ohio State University, 1997.

Hasseler, Theresa A. ""Myself in India" : the memsahib figure in colonial India /." Thesis, Connect to this title online; UW restricted, 1995.

Consiglio, Amy M. "Five Days at India House." VCU Scholars Compass, 1999.

Horstmann, Sebastian [Verfasser]. "Images of India in British Fiction: Anglo-India vs. the Metropolis / Sebastian Horstmann." Frankfurt : Peter Lang GmbH, Internationaler Verlag der Wissenschaften, 2016.

Malhotra, Ashok. "Making of British India fictions, 1772-1823." Thesis, University of Edinburgh, 2009.

Bilkha, Shubika. "Stories of the cities by the sea : representing society through fiction from Bombay and Karachi /." Connect to online version, 2006.

Hayball, Constance Nora May. "Some aspects of the treatment of India in modern English fiction." Thesis, Loughborough University, 1987.

Chand, Meira. "Encounters with India : neither self nor other and, Spectrum : a collection of short stories." Thesis, Edith Cowan University, Research Online, Perth, Western Australia, 2009.

Roye, Susmita. "Confrontation and coalescence : women's fiction in English in colonial India, 1870-1947." Thesis, University of Bristol, 2010.

Choudhuri, Sucheta Mallick. "Transgressive territories: queer space in Indian fiction and film." Diss., University of Iowa, 2009.

Solomon, Benjamin M. "Who Cycles Into Our Valley." Digital Archive @ GSU, 2012.

Yorke, Stephanie. "Disability, normalcy, and the failures of the nation : a reading of selected fiction by Salman Rushdie, Rohinton Mistry, Indra Sinha, and Firdaus Kanga." Thesis, University of Oxford, 2015.

King, Lucia. "Performance on screen in India : methods and relationships in non-fiction film production, 1991-2011." Thesis, SOAS, University of London, 2012.

Ray, Sohomjit. "Neoliberalism and Same-Sex Desire in the Fiction and Public Cultures of India after 1991." Kent State University / OhioLINK, 2013.

Choudhuri, Sucheta Mallick Kopelson Kevin Kumar Priya. "Transgressive territories queer space in Indian fiction and film /." Iowa City : University of Iowa, 2009.

Chanda, Geetanjali. "Indian women in the house of fiction : place, gender, and identity in post-independence Indo-English novels by women /." Thesis, Hong Kong : University of Hong Kong, 1998.

Gohain, Atreyee. "Where the Global Meets the Local: Female Mobility in South Asian Women's Fiction in India and the U.S." Ohio University / OhioLINK, 2015.


Lavery, Charne. "Writing the Indian Ocean in selected fiction by Joseph Conrad, Amitav Ghosh, Abdulrazak Gurnah and Lindsey Collen." Thesis, University of Oxford, 2014.

Cappel, Morgan Morgan. "Indigenous Ghosts and Haunted Landscapes: The Anglo-Indian Colonial Gothic Fiction of B.M. Croker and Alice Perrin." Ohio University Honors Tutorial College / OhioLINK, 2018.

Praveen, Radhika. "Memoirs of a Taboo : a novel ; Women in pre- and post-Victorian India : the use of historical research in the writing of fiction." Thesis, London Metropolitan University, 2018.

Goosen, Adri. ""Stealing the story, salvaging the she" : feminist revisionist fiction and the bible." Thesis, Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Levin, Emily P. Levin. "Gratefully Acknowledged." University of Akron / OhioLINK, 2018.

Young, Sally. "Irresistible grace : excerpt from a novel, and, Looking back: on writing, travel and the gaze : an essay." Thesis, Edith Cowan University, Research Online, Perth, Western Australia, 2013.

Amar, Shruti. "Folklore, myth, and Indian fiction in English, 1930-1961." Thesis, King's College London (University of London), 2018.

Komalesha, H. S. "Issues of identity in Indian English fiction : a close reading of canonical Indian English novels /." Oxford : Peter Lang, 2008.

Alexandru, Maria-Sabina. "Estrangement and return performances in contemporary Indian fiction in English." Thesis, University of East Anglia, 2006.

Morey, Peter Gareth. "Re-reading the Raj : narrative and power in British fictions of India." Thesis, University of Sussex, 1994.

Omissi, Dominic. "The Mills and Boon memsahibs : women's romantic Indian fiction 1877-1947." Thesis, Lancaster University, 1995.

Meyer, Neele [Verfasser], and Bernhard [Akademischer Betreuer] Teuber. "Glocalizing genre fiction in the global South : Indian and Latin American post-millennial crime fiction / Neele Meyer ; Betreuer: Bernhard Teuber." München : Universitätsbibliothek der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, 2017.

Karmakar, Indrani. "Maternal fictions : the representation of motherhood in Indian women's writing." Thesis, University of York, 2018.

Devadawson, Christel Rashmi. "Indian thought, myth and folklore in the fiction of Rudyard Kipling and E.M.Forster." Thesis, University of Cambridge, 1992.

Kapur, Vikram. "'The Scales of Remembrance : a Novel' and Indian Fiction Set Against a Political Backdrop'." Thesis, University of East Anglia, 2009.

Chakravarty, G. "Imagining resistance : British historiography and popular fiction on the Indian Rebellion of 1857-59." Thesis, University of Cambridge, 1999.

Cundy, Catherine. "'Indias of the mind' : the construction of post-colonial identity in Salman Rushdie's fiction." Thesis, University of Kent, 1994.

Barber, Jennifer P. "Indian chick-lit : form and consumerism /." Electronic version (PDF), 2006.

Andrews, Gabriel M. "William Apess and Sherman Alexie: Imagining Indianness in (Non)Fiction." Digital Archive @ GSU, 2010.

Ghose, Ipshita. "Fictions of the postcolonial city : Reading Bombay-Mumai as the Locus Classicus' of modernity in India." Thesis, University of Kent, 2011.

Potts, Henry M. "Native American values and traditions and the novel : ambivalence shall speak the story." Thesis, McGill University, 1996. http://digitool.Library.McGill.CA:80/R/?func=dbin-jump-full&object_id=26754.

Thompson, Sidney 1965. "Bass Reeves: a History • a Novel • a Crusade, Volume 1: the Rise." Thesis, University of North Texas, 2015.

Kuske, Laura Eileen. "Border stories : race, space, and captivity in early national fiction /." Thesis, Connect to this title online; UW restricted, 2000.

Mhoumadi, Nassurdine Ali. "Le roman de Mohamed Toihiri : entre témoignage et fiction." Thesis, Lyon 2, 2010.

Marsh, Catherine L. "Fictions of 1947 : representations of Indian decolonization in French-language literary, journalistic and political texts." Thesis, University of Liverpool, 2004.

Mathai, Kavita. "A question of identity : a study of three Indian novels in English of the nineteen eighties /." Thesis, Hong Kong : University of Hong Kong, 1996.

GÖNC, MOAČANIN Klara. "NĀṬTYAMAṆḌAPA: A Real or a Fictional Performing Space of the Classical Indian Theatre." 名古屋大学大学院文学研究科インド文化学研究室 (Department of Indian Studies, Graduate School of Letters, Nagoya University), 2003.

Roy, Reshmi. ""Saptapadi" -- the seven steps : a study of the urban Hindu arranged marriage in selected Indian-English fiction by women authors." Thesis, University of Canterbury. English, 2004.

Breckon, Ian. ""The bloodiest record in the book of time" : Amy Horne and the Indian uprising of 1857, in fact and fiction." Thesis, Bath Spa University, 2012.

Friedman, Amy Lynn. "Menippean satire or counter-realism? : questions of genre in contemporary Indian fiction in English by Menen, Desani, Rushdie, and Sealy." Thesis, Goldsmiths College (University of London), 2008.

Gemein, Mascha Nicola. "Multispecies Thinking from Alexander von Humboldt to Leslie Marmon Silko: Intercultural Communication Toward Cosmopolitics." Diss., The University of Arizona, 2013.

Deuschle, Agnes Hübscher. "FIGURAÇÕES DO INDÍGENA NA FICÇÃO RIO-GRANDENSE." Universidade Federal de Santa Maria, 2008.


15 years of open access humanitarian scholarship, indian literature in english, representing gandhi: a study of mahatma gandhi as a character in selected novels from colonial and post-colonial times.

Mainak Gupta Academic Content Researcher and Writer, Inventive Gentech Solutions, LLP: Kolkata, India Rupkatha Journal , Vol. 15, Issue 3, 2023. [Article History : Received: 05 January 2023. Revised: 10 August 2023. Accepted: 15 August 2023. Published: 20 August 2023.] Full-Text PDF   Issue Access

The 1930s saw the rise of Mahatma Gandhi as the frontline leader of India’s struggle against the British imperialists, and it was also a decade when the Indian novel in English came of age, with the publication of Mulk Raj Anand’s Untouchable , R.K. Narayan’s Swami and Friends and Raja Rao’s Kanthapura within a few years of each other. The English novel in India grew as a consequence of the English education introduced by the British, and it was used as a weapon against the imperialists by a bunch of young men who were primarily educated abroad, with an aim to use a universal language that addressed all Indians all over the world. Gandhi, unsurprisingly, became a great source of inspiration for these writers. Gandhi has been a subject of literature and other forms of art to this day, but the portrayal of the ‘Great-soul’ (as Tagore called Gandhi) has gone through a change since the pre-independence days. This essay analyses the change in the portrayal of Gandhi by close-reading four novels, Untouchable (1935) and Kanthapura (1938) from the colonised period, and Waiting for the Mahatma (1955) and Dhorai Charit Manas (1950) from the post-independence era. The essay shows how the portrayal of Gandhi and Gandhism went through a change in the novels from the colonial period to post-colonial times, as the reverence and deification of Gandhi that was so prevalent in the novels of the colonial time gave way to a more humane portrayal of the most influential leader of India’s freedom struggle.

Keywords : Mahatma Gandhi; Indian fiction in English; Mulk Raj Anand; Raja Rao; R.K. Narayan; Satinath Bhaduri; Indian freedom struggle [Sustainable Development Goals: Quality Education] Citation : Gupta, Mainak. 2023. Representing Gandhi: A Study of Mahatma Gandhi as a Character in Selected Novels from Colonial and Post-Colonial Times. Rupkatha Journal 15:3.

Of Maternal Uncles and Mangalik Brides: Sakuni in the Folk Narrations of The Mahabharata

Seema Sinha 1 , Kumar Sankar Bhattacharya 2 & Sailaja Nandigama 3 1 Ph.D. and a Post-Doc from the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, BITS Pilani, Pilani Campus, Rajasthan. Email: [email protected] 2 Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences BITS Pilani, Pilani Campus, Rajasthan. Email: [email protected] 3 Associate Professor, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, BITS Pilani, Pilani Campus, Rajasthan. Email: [email protected]

[Received February 10 2023, modified 24 July 2023, accepted 25 July 2023, first published 29 July 2023]

Rupkatha Journal , Vol. 15, Issue 2, 2023. Full-Text PDF Issue Access

Abstract The timelessness of The Mahabharata lies in its ability to re-invent itself, thereby giving the society a chance to re-negotiate, revise, and revive the discourse. It also gives the so-called ‘villains of the piece’, well established in the ‘rogues’ gallery’, a chance to redeem themselves. One such character is Sakuni, the ‘shrewd’ maternal uncle of the Kauravas, whose negative image in Vyasa’s textual universe is questioned by the folk renditions of the grand epic. The Oriya Mahabharata by Sarala Das views Sakuni not as the master conspirator who brought about the great war, but as a victim who suffered because of the court politics of the Kauravas. The strong popular culture that supports him is also evident in the narratives of the Kalbelias of Rajasthan, and in the folk renderings of the epic in Kerala. This makes us reflect as to why the meta-narrative has vilified Sakuni and treated him with contempt when the folk traditions view him in a more charitable light, or at least give him the benefit of doubt. This paper utilizes narrative research methods to understand the dehumanization of Sakuni in the dominant discourse. It employs the postmodern theories of psychoanalytical criticism and deconstruction in the study of the petite narratives associated with Sakuni to facilitate engagement, plurality, and divergence in the discourse. The paper attempts to read the chronicles of self, society, and social justice in these lesser-known narratives to liberate Sakuni from his filial debt and relocate him into the discursive universe.

Keywords : The Mahabharata , Sakuni, discursive, petite narratives, oral tradition, plurality, social justice

[ Sustainable Development Goals: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, Reduced Inequalities]

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Professor-English, University of Engineering and Management, New-Town, Kolkata. West Bengal. Email: [email protected]

DOI:  10.21659/rupkatha.v13n3.37

The character of Bimala in Tagore’s Ghare- Baire or The Home and the World as a symbol of struggle for the liberation of Bengali woman as well as Bengal remains at the centre of scholarly discussion since the publication (1916), translation (1919) and the film adaptation (1984) of the novel. Bimala, the main protagonist of the novel is presented as a native Indian woman who gets western education and lives a modern lifestyle due to her marriage. She has conflicting attitudes, feelings and thoughts which recur randomly in the narrative. The paper focusses on the character of Bimala and interrogates the location of her agency with respect to the rising Swadeshi movement and the political excesses on one hand and her relationship with Nikhil and Sandip on the other. On a further note, reflecting on the political and epic underpinnings of Bimala (caught between the gradual and the radical approach to Swadeshi ), the paper intends to stretch beyond her “situation” (the apex of the triangular relationship) and explore her self-realization at the end of the novel. Bimala, the woman set between the option of choices between the ‘motherland’ and the ‘two-men’ gradually transgress from the shackles of her naïve identity to become the beset New Woman . To explore Tagore’s rewritten epic of a woman (epitomized in real life as the New Woman ), we need to discuss how the writer helped shaping the image of the New Woman through his conscious evoking of Bimala in the role of Sita, Nikhil in the role of Rama and Sandip in the role of Ravana. In response to the popular inscriptions of Bharatmata , Tagore allegorises the iconographic representation of Bimala resembling the “divine feminine strength ( Shakti) for creation and ( Kali ) for the cause of destruction.” (Pandit 1995,217-19).

  Keywords: Zenana, Epic battle, (Re)location, Bharatmata, New-Woman.

Indian English is also Creole: Incorporating Regional Bias in Research Pedagogy

Tirtha Prasad Mukhopadhyay

Professor, Department of Art and Enterprise, University of Guanajuato, Campus Irapuato-Salamanca, Mexico., Mexico. Email: [email protected]

  Volume 13, Number 3, 2021  I  Full Text PDF

DOI:  10.21659/rupkatha.v13n3.16

Research pedagogy in India should readjust itself to accommodate claims of regional autonomy in arts and letters. Different ways of reconstructing a pedagogy of research are recommended. Reflexive Humanism ensures adequate assessment and evaluation of cultural, literary, and aesthetic achievements of diverse populations. The Indian English corpus is redefined as a creolized Indian language with lexical and semantic factors borrowed from English. The consciousness of pro-national subjectivism is also considered an essential constituent of Indian English literature. Lines of research are suggested for aspiring scholars in the Indian academy. The author emphasizes a dynamic and sensitive adaptation of research methodology which respects and reintegrates itself with the evolution of globally aware, contemporary society in India.

  Keywords:  Anglophone, Creolization, Indian English, Research Pedagogy

Of fear and fantasy, fact and fiction: Interrogating canonical Indian literary historiography towards comprehending partition of Bengal in post-Independence Indian (English) fictional space

Ashes Gupta

Professor, Dept. of English, Tripura University (A Central University), Suryamaninagar, Agartala, West Tripura. ORCID: 0000-0002-5881-8468. Email: [email protected]

  Volume 12, Number 4, July-September, 2020  I  Full Text PDF

DOI:  10.21659/rupkatha.v12n4.13

A victim of the partition of Eastern India/undivided Bengal, a refugee is one who has ironically left behind the real but has carried on forever indelibly imprinted in memory that which is lost and remembered in superlatives, thus moving and simultaneously resisting to move. Remaining mentally anchored forever on ‘Bengal’s shore’ and having been denied the moment of adequate articulation of the loss in factual terms partly due to immediate trauma and partly due to the inherent politics of the language of standard literary expression vis-à-vis spoken language (Bangla vs Bangal respectively) with its hierarchic positionings, as well as the politics of state policy that attributed partition of Western India primordial signification, the Bengali Hindu refugee migrating from erstwhile East Pakistan (and now Bangladesh) to India, has never ‘really’ spoken and this is the hypothesis of this argument. Thus, what is heard, being far removed from the historical moment of rupture that was partition and with the loss of that fateful generation is bound to be ‘fiction’ and not ‘fact’. This paper proposes that since the refugee voice was denied adequate articulation of the ‘facts’ and the ‘fears’ resultant from partition in this part of Eastern India, that historical moment of perception and documentation has been irretrievably lost. Hence any attempt at documenting the same now shall obviously result in fictionalization of and fantasizing the loss as is evident in original and translational post-Independence Indian English Fiction -the moment of loss being the moment of fictional genesis. This paper also puts forward the necessity of identifying two specific periods beyond ‘independence’ whose axiomatic point would be the partition of Eastern India/ undivided Bengal viz. pre-partition and post-partition Indian Literature. The same shall apply to Indian English Literature both in original and translation.

Keywords : fear, fantasy, fact, fiction, partition, canonical historiography, refugee, independence, Indian English fictional space, inter-semiotic, translation.

Representing Kolkata : A Study of ‘Gaze’ Construction in Amit Chaudhuri’s Calcutta: Two Years in the City and Bishwanath Ghosh’s Longing Belonging: An Outsider at Home in Calcutta

Saurabh Sarmadhikari

Assistant Professor, Department of English, Gangarampur College, Dakshin Dinajpur, West Bengal. ORCID: 0000-0002-8577-4878 . Email:  [email protected]

  Volume 12, Number 3, 2020  I  Full Text PDF

DOI:  10.21659/rupkatha.v12n3.32

Indian travel writings in English exclusively on Kolkata have been rare even though tourist guidebooks such as the Lonely Planet have dedicated sections on the city. In such a scenario, Amit Chaudhuri’s Calcutta: Two Years in the City (2016) and Bishwanath Ghosh’s Longing Belonging: An Outsider at Home in Calcutta (2014) stand out as exceptions. Both these narratives, written by probashi (expatriate) Bengalis, represent Kolkata though a bifocal lens. On the one hand, their travels are a journey towards rediscovering their Bengali roots and on the other, their representation/construction of the city of Kolkata is as hard-boiled as any seasoned traveller. The contention of this paper is that both Chaudhuri and Ghosh foreground certain selected/pre-determined signifiers that are common to Kolkata for the purpose of their representation which are instrumental in constructing the ‘gaze’ of their readers towards the city. This process of ‘gaze’ construction is studied by applying John Urry and Jonas Larsen’s conceptualization of the ‘tourist gaze’. Borrowing the Foucauldian concept of ‘gaze’, Urry and Larsen state that ‘gazing’ is a discursive practice that is both constituted by the filters of the gazer’s cultural moorings as well as the institutionalized mechanisms of the travel/tourism industry which rely significantly on the deployment of signs and signifiers to construct the ‘gaze’ of the travellers and the tourists towards a tourist destination. The present paper seeks to analyze how both Chaudhuri and Ghosh use ‘selective’ signifiers of the city of Kolkata to construct the ‘gaze’ of their readers towards the city in their representation.

Keywords: representation, gaze, construction, Kolkata, travel narratives

The Therapeutic Value of Indian Classical, Folk and Innovative Dance Forms

Arpita Chatterjee, Barasat College, West Bengal State University, India Download PDF Version  Abstract Dance provides an active, non-competitive form of

The Essentials of Indianness: Tolerance and Sacrifice in Indian Partition Fiction in English and in English Translation

Indian Partition fiction, on the one hand, records man’s bestiality and savagery and on the other, attests to the fact

Book Review: The Silent Witness (2019) by Anuradha

Publisher: Jaico Publishing House (January 1, 2019)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 9387944611

ISBN-13: 978-9387944619

Reviewed by

Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, BITS-Pilani (Hyderabad Campus). Email: [email protected]

  Volume 12, Number 2, April-June, 2020  I  Full Text PDF

DOI:  10.21659/rupkatha.v12n2.21

Narratives on territorial conquest, occupation and settlement have dominated postcolonial studies for decades. There has been a considerable dearth of fictional accounts surrounding the European invasion of port cities via the sea routes and subsequent trade monopoly over the spices. The Indian Ocean has been the vortex of political activities and cross-cultural links. The ports along the Malabar coastline was of great interest to not just for one; but three competing super-powers namely the Portuguese, the Dutch and British. The trade links commenced with the onslaught of Greek traders who came to ports like Muzhiri or Mucheripatanam (Malabar) and Pum Puhar (Madurai) during 2nd century AD. Experts on Mediterranean maritime history like Vincent A. Smith points out as to how ports like Pum Puhar had the good fortune to attract traders across the globe as they were rich in three precious commodities “Pepper, pearls and beryl” (Smith 400) In fact, historical accounts of Warmington point out as to how there was a drain of Roman wealth as “Romans showed a taste for excessive decoration of fingers and by the use of gems to cover conches, garlands, armour etc. The practice of collecting gems became common during the 1st century AD and Saurus, Julius Caesar, and Marcellus were all collectors of precious stones. (131) However, the last of the European traders who came since 1498, the Portuguese, Dutch and British had imperialistic designs apart from sheer mercenary motives.

The Silent Witness (2019) by Anuradha, (translated from Malayalam by Nirmala Aravind) is a historic novel which explores the descent of Portuguese and Dutch suzerainty in the princely states of Kochi (central part of Kerala). She traverses backwards in time; to explain how these princely states became a pawn to the imperial project, due to their internal dissensions thereby paving way to an easy colonization by Portuguese and Dutch from the 15 th to 18 th C. In addition, the novel also highlights the ‘cosmopolitanism’ and ‘shared culture’ which emerged as a result of these trade and colonial interventions. All the historic events of the novel are juxtaposed around the plot to; both ‘hold and foil’ the forthcoming coronation of Kerala Varma as the ruler of Kochi. Running parallel to the plot is; the love interest of Veera Kerala Varma (Kerala Varma’s younger brother) and the niece of rival kingdom’s (Chempakassery) chieftain, Unnimaya.

The novel subtly hints to its audience as to how the Dutch were much better and more popular than the Portuguese. Novelist Anuradha charts out reasons for the latter’s unpopularity; like introduction of opium to masses whose “inordinate consumption” (13) destroyed public health and drained resources. She also directs the reader’s attention to the terror Portuguese ships triggered in the Indian Ocean by their canon-loaded caramel ships, and the restrictions imposed on ships which did not have a Portuguese trade permit or cartazas to ply the Indian Ocean. The novel is equally blatant about the Portuguese forcible conversions and exclusion of the Syrian Christians and their entry to places like Fort Emanuel or Fort Kochi. Nevertheless, many of the historic incidents especially that which deals with the Portuguese has been ardently dealt in Malayalam films like Urumi , Pazhazhi Raja and in briefer versions in few novels like N.S Madhavan’s book Litanies of Dutch Battery and Johny Miranda’s Requiem for the Living .

However, the most refreshing aspect of Anuradha’s novel remains her representation of Dutch in Kerala. Very few novelists have covered the socio-political implications of the Dutch regime and the coalition of three rulers of Kerala namely the Zamorins (Samoothiris) of Calicut, the Cochin kings and the Queen of Kollam to oust the Portuguese from power. Towards the concluding part, the novel also highlights the peaceful reign of Veera Kerala Varma under the Dutch over lordship. The novel insinuates the readers to analyse the reason why Kerala became a hotspot for violence and terror and susceptible to the hegemony of foreign invaders.

The novelist has engaged in a meticulous research of the 15 to 17 th century and notably included most of the major events that occurred during the period. Anuradha  has recreated or fictionalized real historic characters like Itty Achutan Vaidyan of the Kollad family who influenced the Dutch Governor, Van Rheede, with his knowledge of medicinal plants. As the plot progresses the audience is introduced to Itty Achutan’s treatment of Van Rheede’s painful boil on his foot with courtyard herbs like neem leaves, raw turmeric horanthus (186). The successful treatment led to the compilation of Horticus Malabaricus or “The Garden of Malabar” which was considered one of the most important treatise on the medicinal plants of Malabar. In addition, the religious tolerance of the Dutch is highlighted repeatedly in the book by contrasting it with the ‘forcible conversion of natives’ policy adopted by the Portuguese making most of the indigenous natives turn indignantly against the Portuguese rule. Although the book casts the Dutch regime as more benevolent as compared to the Portuguese, a closer look of the sub-text reveal at times; the tyranny and bloodshed  Dutch inflicted on the Portuguese women and children while conquering Fort Emanuel popularly known as the jewel of Dutch throne.

Temples and temple festivals are sites of faith and power dynamics and cultural transactions in Kerala society. The novelist has truthfully invoked famous and leading temples of Kerala like the Guruvayoor temple, Vaddakanathan temple, the Poornathrayesha temple, Ambalapuzha temple, adding to the authencity of the cultural setting of the novel and drawing attention to pivotal role temples played in the lives of royal families. However, the novelist has left out inclusion of a few important temple events like the attack on the famous Guruvayoor temple by the Dutch and razing of the flagstaff which could have further enhanced the authenticity of the novel. In addition, the novel also has a few historic flaws like attributing Zamorin Manavedan’s uncle as the composer of Krishnagiti (the text of dance form Krishnattam). Krishnagiti was actually composed by Prince Manaveda who became the Zamorin in 1665. ( Bush 21). Another flaw that can be discerned is the representation of the Vadekkara Palace, the palace of Cochin kings for ages; as the palace of Zamorin Manavedan where he has a clandestine meeting with Kerala Varma.

Running parallel to the political anxieties of the protagonist Kerala Varma and his brother Veera Kerala Varma is the story concerning the closest ally of the Kochi princes, known as the Ali Marrakar. Ali Marrakar and his pirate troops on sea called Marrakar pada supported and defended Kochi at the time of crisis. The other close allies of Samoothiri and Cochin kings like Mangath Achan, Paliyath Achan find a place in the narrative. The book also draws the attention of the readers to the fact that in many princely states it was the Queen who took care of the administrative affairs of the kingdom. For example, the Queen of Kollam not only entertained her guests at the Puthukulangara Palace but also initiated political discussions. This delineates the power and agency woman had to take decisions and also efficiently execute the same.

The overall novelty of theme in English fiction makes it an excellent read for both book lovers and students of literature and history. In fact, the dual focus on colonial interventions in port cities and the resistance put up by the local rulers against the Portuguese makes it a an important text for postcolonial analysis as well.

Works Cited

Bush, Martha et al. 2015. The Royal Temple Theatre of Krishnattam. DK Printworld, New Delhi

Madhavan N. S. 2010. Litanies of Dutch Battery . (Trans. Rajesh Rajamohan). Penguin, New Delhi

Warmington, E.H. 1928. The Commerce between the Roman Empire and India (2nd edition) CUP, Cambridge

Smith, V. A. 1924. Early History of India . (4th edition),  OUP, London

Dr. Maya Vinai has been working as Assistant Professor at BITS-Pilani (Hyderabad Campus) since 2012. Her research interests include Temple Art Forms in South India, Representation of Matrilineal Communities in Literature, Food and Culture in South Asian Literature, and the impact of Dutch and Portuguese Colonialism in South India .  Her critical works have been featured in several national and international journals like South Asian Review, Asiatic- IIUM, Rupkatha Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies on Humanities and IUP Journal of English Studies. She has also authored a book titled Interrogating Caste and Gender in Anita Nair’s Fiction.

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