In Search of the Hero(es) within the Genre and Beyond

deadline for submissions: 
December 31, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Department of English, MMV, Banaras Hindu University
contact email: 

In Search of the Hero(es) within the Genre and Beyond


“A Hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”

-       Joseph Campbell


The world today has become a confused arena populated with masses having no clue of what is going on around them, and more especially, with them. The enthusiasm and optimism that foregrounded the most part of the 20th century, despite the great wars and mass killings, turned pessimistic in last few decades, and now paranoia dictates us. Our present bearing is so fittingly described by Cooper in the movie Interstellar that “We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our places in the stars. Now we just look down and worry about our places in the dirt.” We used to exalt our lives with the sublime conduct by following examples of people like Gandhi and Buddha. We used to be inspired by the stories of people, real or fictional, displaying extraordinary demeanor against hostile forces. Now, we have turned them into commodities with which we satisfy our fetish devours by owning them. What led humanity to arrive here? The old tales are not working now and new ones are not in the making. A bizarre wasteland surmounts us inhabited by a lot that is passive and disinterested, lacking moral convictions, aspiring to be rescued and purged by someone else for their sins. However, whom they chose to be rescued by, that posits the question.

            This question consciously or unconsciously has become a part of our day-to-day discourse. Metaphors ranging from the semiotics of avant-garde to pop-culture, from real to surreal, from genres and beyond, wobble around the same question – What sort of hero you want to choose to redeem yourself? But before one can delve into this question, one needs to ask, who and what is a Hero? Joseph Campbell weighs over the concept of hero and elucidates that a hero is someone who makes a journey into an experience that is lacking in life or is not permitted to the members of society. The hero, thus, takes an adventurous journey to have an access to that knowledge and then returns back with some message; hence, a cyclical process of going and returning. If so, can we call each one of us heroes, as Norman Mailer said during Kennedy’s Presidential bid in 1960, “each of us was born to be free, to wander, to have adventure and to grow on the waves of the violent, the perfumed, and the unexpected, had a force which could not be tamed.” If these are the interpretations of being and becoming a hero, then what are the (im)possibilities of academics, theologians, philosophers, and ascetics to become one? One can notice the repetition of journeys that Campbell talks about have been witnessed in the stories ranging from Jesus to Ram to Buddha to Krishna to Beowulf to Ulysses to Robin Hood to Milton’s Satan to even contemporary encashment of “hero-making” and “hero-worshipping” in the likes of Obama to Donald Trump to Vladimir Putin to John Cena to Shahrukh Khan to Batman. It is in the later body of folks where the concept goes awry because by the time one reaches to this end of the string, it becomes hard to decipher between the hero and the image. And thus, is witnessed the emergence of myth-making of heroes from tribal, local, regional, ethnic, racial, gendered, religious, national and international communities.

            And it becomes more convoluted and twisted because we are strolling in an age where the stratosphere everywhere is breathing with its own kind of personal and private heroes conflicting with the other. Orrin E. Klapp justly remarks in his article, “The Creation of Popular Superheroes,” which seems to be an astute remark for our times that “an age of mass hero worship is an age of instability,” and it would be rash on our part if we blind eye ourselves to this fact. ‘The best are lacking in all convictions’ as W B Yeats once remarked, ‘and the worst are full of passionate intensity’. Only if one can dare to confront such ‘heroes’ like Bob Dylan emphatically does, “I see through your eyes/And I see through your brain/Like I see through the water/That runs down my drain” (Masters of War). So, what is the solution? Shall the heroes be abandoned? Shall the search be for a Hero rather than heroes? The matter of fact is we are in a mad house and we are all mad as the Cat mentions to Alice in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland:

‘How do you know I’m mad?’ said Alice.

‘You must be,’ said the Cat, ‘or you wouldn’t have come here.’

Now, if we can’t abandon the idea of leaving the premises of the madhouse, it is better then to reconstruct the formula of madness afresh. If we can’t bail out of our heroes for a Hero (having whom would again be nightmarish), if we can’t go back to the world where heroes acted as a beacon to overcome our mortal fears, then the need is as Paul Meadows illustrates, to ‘identify the social interaction of the hero in its myriad form: social control, leadership, imitation, propaganda, the social movement, crowd psychology’ (“Some Notes on the Social Psychology of the Hero”).

            This conference, therefore, aims to bring forth the scholars and researchers to deliberate upon the various concepts and jargons about heroes within the genres and beyond of political, social, cultural, and literary, with hopes to construct and rejuvenate ideas from scratch out of the stale ones.


Following are the subthemes (but not limited) that this conference aims to dwell upon:

  • Hero or Leader
  • Hero as Character/Protagonist
  • Hero/Anti-hero/Villain/Criminal
  • Hero as Poet/Prophet/Philosopher
  • Female Hero or Heroine
  • Hero in Transition
  • Alternative Hero
  • Hero as Outcaste/Pariah
  • Superhero
  • Artist/Author as a Hero
  • Hero with Mask
  • City/Space as Hero
  • Genre Heroes
  • Medium/Technology as Hero
  • Statesman as Hero
  • Nation as Hero
  • Hero as Myth/Hero in Mythology
  • Hero as Explorer
  • Hero as Guardian




List of Speakers


Keynote Speaker



Alicia Maree Malone

The famous film reporter, host, writer and self-confessed movie geek. She first gained notice hosting movie-centric shows and reviewing films in her native Australia, before making the leap to Los Angeles in 2011. Since then, Alicia has appeared on CNN, the Today show, MSNBC, NPR and many more as a film expert. Currently, she is a host on FilmStruck, a cinephile subscription streaming service run by the Criterion Collection and Turner Classic Movies, and she is the creator and host of the weekly show, Indie Movie Guide on Fandango.

She is the writer of the book Backwards and in Heels about the history of women in Hollywood.

Alicia has traveled the world to cover the BAFTAs, the Oscars, the Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival and SXSW. She is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, and over the years has interviewed hundreds of movie stars and filmmakers.



Plenary Speakers


Prof. Dr. Ursula Kocher

Professor of General Literary Studies and Older German Literature in the European context at the Bergische Universitaet, Wuppertal, Germany. Prof. Ursula Kocher studied German, Romance, Rhetoric and History at the Otto- Friedrich University, Bamberg as well as Eberhard Karls Universitaet, Tübingen, Germany. From 1991 to 1999 she was a scholarship fellow at the German Cultural Foundation. In 2000 and 2001, Kocher was a research associate of the DFG Research project “The Invisibility of the Imagination in Elizabethan Culture” at the Humboldt-Universität, Berlin, and then until 2006 a scientific assistant at Freie Universität, Berlin. She is pioneer for starting many Projects with Indian. 

From 2008 to 2010 Kocher was the spokesman for the Interdisciplinary Center “Medieval – Renaissance – Early Modern Period.” Prof Kocher has been awarded the  “World lion” of the BergischeUniversität for special merits for the internationalization of the university.





                                                                                                                 Prof. Dr. Peter W. Marx

Peter W. Marx (born 1973 in Limburg an der Lahn) is a German Theatre and Performance Studies Scholar. He holds the Chair of Theatre and Media Studies at the Universität zu Köln, Germany, where he functions also as the director of Theaterwissenschaftliche Sammlung. Prof. Marx is recognized for his research on metropolitan culture at the beginning of the 20th century as well as on Max Reinhardt with an emphasis on Cultural Studies. In addition, his work focuses on contemporary theatre and Shakespeare in performance, particularly on “Hamlet“ as a figure of cultural mobility.




Dr. Jyoti Sabharwal

She is an Assistant Professor, Department of Germanic and Romance Studies, University of Delhi, India. Her expertise lies in German Exile Literature from 1933-1945, with a special focus on India as a place of exile; Representations of India in post war novels and shorter prose, the emergence of migrant writing and questions of history and memory.


                                                                                                                   Prof. Anita Singh

Prof Anita Singh is a Professor in the Department of English and Co-coordinator of the Centre for Women‘s Studies and Development at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India. Her areas of interest are Gender Studies and Performance Studies. She is published both as a critical and creative writer. She has completed a project sponsored by the Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi, on Staging Gender: Performing Women in the Ramlila of Ramnagar‘ in 2016. Her recent edited books are Gender, Space and Resistance: Women and Theatre in India (2013) and Theory and Praxis :Indian and Western (Eds. Rai, Pandey & Singh) UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing (2015). She has also published interviews with Indian women theatre artiste in Asian Theatre Journal. Her other publications include: Arthur Miller: A Study of the Doomed Heroes in his Plays; Indian English Novel in the Nineties and After: a Study of the Text and its Context; 1857 and After: Literary Representations (Eds); And the Story Begins: My Ten Short Stories. She received Fulbright Fellowship in the year 2013. In this teaching project she analyzed issues connected with theatre—from aesthetics and techniques of the theatre to the political, social and moral values of women involved in theatre. During this period (August 2013 through December 2013) she visited seven universities and colleges for public lectures and guest classes in the USA.


                          Baradwaj Rangan

Baradwaj Rangan is an Indian film critic, writer, and formerly the deputy editor of The Hindu. He is now a senior editor of Film Companion. A member of the Film Circle of India, he won the National Film Award for Best Film Critic in 2006. Before joining The Hindu, Rangan wrote for The New Indian Express. He has also authored two books, and is a teacher at the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai. 



                              Aileen Blaney

Aileen Blaney is an educator, writer and researcher with an M.Phil and Ph.D. in Film Studies from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. Aileen’s film related publications have appeared in edited book collections and international peer-reviewed journals. Her research is currently focused on how the internet, digitization of culture and their increasing automation are impacting photo-based art practices and photography in the everyday. She is co-editor of a forthcoming book Photography in India in Light Years and Digital Times (forthcoming, 2017). Prior to joining Srishti, she worked at India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) in its arts practice and curatorial programmes. She was a creative producer (2010-12) for Dublin-based Forum on Migration and Communications and Pivotal Arts Studio (Dublin/London), where she contributed to socially engaged documentary arts, curatorial and public learning projects with a focus on migration. At Srishti, Aileen teaches in the PhD program, is Course Leader for the MA in Screen Studies and delivers ‘General Studies’ courses in film, photography and visual theory and criticism at undergraduate level.








Key Points


Last date for sending abstract of the paper:  31 December 2017

Last date for sending complete paper: 28 January 2018

Send abstract/paper to the conference email id:

Selected Presenters will be notified by 10 January 2018

Conference Dates: 23-24 February 2018

Registration Fee: Rs 2,000 (for Research Scholars); Rs 2,500 (for Faculty Members); and 100 USD (for International delegates)



Format for the Application


  1. Full Name:
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  3. Address (including telephone and email id): 
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  8. Presently pursuing any course or present occupation/position:
  9. Publications, if there (mention the best three):
  10. Specific research area/topic (if any):
  11. Abstract of your presentation in the Conference:




Prof. G.C. Tripathi

Vice Chancellor

Banaras Hindu University

Varanasi – 221005

Prof. S.S. Kaushik



BHU, Varanasi


Organizing Committee


Dr. Amar Singh


Assistant Professor

Department of English (MMV)

Banaras Hindu University

Varanasi – 221005

Mob. +91- 9454950123


Shipra Tholia

Co-convener & Organizing Secretary

Assistant Professor

Department of German Studies

Banaras Hindu University

Varanasi – 221005

Mob. +91-9451052207

Dr. Pravin K. Patel


Assistant Professor

Department of English (MMV)

Banaras Hindu University

Varanasi – 221005

Mob. +91-9554796662