11th Annual SALA Conference, Los Angeles, January 7-8 2011: Transnational Realisms and Post R<!--break-->

full name / name of organization: 
11th Annual South Asian Literary Association Conference: Transnational Realisms and Post Realisms in South Asian Literature and Culture
contact email: 
Rashmi Bhatnagar, rashmi@pitt.edu; Rajender Kaur, kaurr@wpunj.edu

This conference examines ways in which South Asian realist and postrealist writers unsettle and rework realist codes. South Asian cultural and narrative forms are erased or occluded in the realism/anti-realism debate. The normative account in literary histories posits realism as the precursor to modernism. South Asian literary realisms diverge from, and are discontinuous with, the long history of debate about Platonic and neo-Platonic art as copying a copy of the real. Neither the philosophic-scientific development of the doctrine of the real, nor 19th century realism as the objective expression of the world view of the European bourgeoisie, can be fully claimed by South Asian realisms except in indirect, synoptic, and belated ways as the travel of ideas through Empire. How might we account for the ways in which colonial and post-colonial South Asian writers dismantle the opposition between realism and modernism? Categories troubled by the South Asian writer include conventional oppositions between realism and myth: realist versus non-realist art: written realisms as distinct from realism in oral storytelling: novel versus petit récit (short tale): realism in frame narratives in relation to realism in episodic or cyclic narratives: social realism as a contrast to magical realism.

Once these binaries are exploded, new paradigms are made available to us: planetary and transnational realisms. Space, time and identity in South Asian realisms are not always situated within the frameworks of nationalism. Transnational, or planetary realisms, suggest that the South Asian writer need not be an apologist for the nation state and he/she does not have to be tied to or encumbered by strictly mimetic conventions of representation. We invite papers on literature, criticism, film, cultural, and social activism that explore any aspect of South Asian realisms and/or post(-)realisms within both national and diasporic contexts. Papers may explore, but are not restricted to, the following ideas and questions:

• Realism’s narrative forms and migratory routes. How can we theorize verbal,
discursive, characterological, digressive, as well as truth telling realist conventions in South Asian narrative forms (such as the qissa, dastaan, kathasagar, Puranic tale, folktale, or epic recitation)?

• Whose reality does realism narrate? Which classes, communities, genders and
castes constitute the privileged subject of South Asian literary realisms? In what ways have new reading publics among South Asian, diaspora, and non-South Asian communities generated local and global markets for writers of fresh and unexpected South Asian literary realisms?

• Affective Realisms. Realism seduces by producing an essential reality and unity
of affect. How might new wave or neo-realist literature, music, and film construct an essentialism of affect? How is the local and the global imagined in such constructions?

• The Language of Realism. Is realism language-neutral or are there distinct
formations of realisms in each South Asian vernacular literature? Is it possible to trace a non-Western history of metaphysics that attends to the material, the social, and the everyday, and moves fluidly between realist registers and the unseen?

• Activist Realisms. The author/playwright/filmmaker-activist who deploys realist and neo-realist modes often aims to make social and physical reality the basis for consciousness raising. How might Dalit literature, women’s writing, and queer cultural texts re-read and rework the historical significance of realism, or speak to current political issues requiring activism? What are the narrative modes for representing the empirical realities of violence and/or movements for social change?

• Socialist or Liberal Realisms. New narratives and narrative technologies in Bollywood essay global neo-realisms, such as the investigative documentary, films themed around terrorism and/or police brutality, and films that document the immigrant’s return home. In post-liberalized India, can we speak of right wing statist appropriations and co-opting of literary and cinematic realisms?

• Subaltern Realisms. Subaltern realisms emerge from lower classes and castes that critique dominant religious practices and modes of domination. For example, how has Bhakti realism invented and reinvented itself in the cinematic and literary-cultural consciousness of South Asian cultural production?

• Realism and Reality: reassessments, influences, updates

Please send, in an email, a 250-word abstract of your paper and a 5-6 line bio-note listing your institutional affiliation and current email address to the conference co-chairs at the email addresses given below. The subject line of your email should contain the words “SALA 2011.”

Deadline for submission of abstracts: 25 August 2010

Co-chairs and Email addresses:

Rashmi Dube Bhatnagar, University of Pittsburgh, rashmi@pitt.edu

Rajender Kaur, William Paterson University, kaurr@wpunj.edu

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