Two- day Seminar on "Literature and Human Rights" on 7th & 8th August 2013

full name / name of organization: 
Department of English, Pondicherry University, Puducherry, India
contact email: 

The Seminar tries to manifest the belief in the enormous power of literature to drive change, and in the author's moral duty to their readers, both social and artistic. Literature is a social enterprise which drives change and motivates people to take action. The Seminar attempts to persuade the readers to expand their understanding and knowledge on human rights topics and violations, thereby inviting them to take social action. Literature promotes values of human rights directly or indirectly. It aims to transform the impact of the reading experience into a motivation for social action. In his book 'What is literature?' Jean-Paul Sartre argued on the moral duty of intellectuals, as well as the ordinary citizen, to take a stand in face of political conflicts, and especially those in their region. Literature according to Sartre is a tool which provides a dual action: first as a mirror to the oppressor, and second, as a guide and inspiration to the oppressed. Through literature, oppressed minorities could gain recognition and an action taken by the elite. The Seminar aims to place texts that keep human rights at the core of its moral and social duty. It also aims to recognize and read authors who dared to delve into writing that is not deliberately cut off from the world, geopolitical changes or social crises. Many literary works give the readers direct opportunities for a real action. Social commitment is in fact an unwritten contract that is signed between the readers to the creation in the process of reading and holds the reader's freedom to act.
In recent times, identity politics got its prominence in the discourse of political philosophy. It signifies the political activity and theorizing founded in the shared experiences of injustice of a social group. Historically, the social groups, which had acquired political and economic dominance, enjoyed the privilege over cultural production and others got silenced. West- influenced middle class, who later played a major role in moulding the nationalist struggles, involved in the production of literary writings. It is obviously the dominant group's ideals and aspirations and their worldview reflected in literature too. With the advent of print culture, the literary and cultural forms of the oppressed social groups such as the Blacks, Dalits, the adivasis, women, transgenders, old age people, children and the Minorities got marginalized while the literary elite succeeded to establish their social experience and their literary products in their various forms as Literature. However, with the intensified struggles of these submerged groups, there emerged a new literary consciousness, which coincided with the emergence of a new class from these sections. The new consciousness produced a new genre of literature different from the so called mainstream literature. The new literature resists the hegemony on the one hand and on the other, it questions the existing human rights violations seriously.
Literature can cultivate a better understanding of Human Rights through critical evaluation of characters, analysis of scenarios, and examination of diverse historical voices. The spirit of the seminar is not to advocate political stances but to cultivate responsible scholars and students capable of a critical examination of their individual rights and the rights of others. Every society should become egalitarian when the voices of all its citizens are not only heard, but incorporated into its policies and decisions. The Seminar will examine how literature has helped to create and critique modern concepts of human rights and humanitarianism. It will focus on the ethical and political questions that arise from this discourse in contemporary works of literature from across the globe. It further investigates what literature can hope to accomplish in the wake of mass violence and examine the new kinds of responsibility that these texts create in a globalizing world. Topics will vary from refugee narratives, testimonies, memoirs, and fictions of witnessing.

Thrust areas for Discussion:
Literature and
Civil rights (The Blacks)
Gender rights (Women, Transgender, Gay, Lesbian)
Disabled rights
Dalit & Tribal rights
Environmental rights(right to land and displacement issues)
Child rights & Senior Citizens' rights
Minority rights
Refugee rights
Cinema and human rights
Any other relevant areas

Registration Fee:
Faculty Members: Rs. 400
Students/Research Scholars Rs. 200

Abstracts along with the Registration form is to be sent to The Organizing Secretary before 25th June 2013 by email. The participants can pay the Registration fee in cash on the first day of the seminar.

Travel and Accommodation:
We hope that you will be able to take care of your travel and accommodation. However accommodation will be arranged for outstation paper presenters, if intimated in advance.
Working lunch and local hospitality will be provided.

Last Date for sending abstracts: 25th June 2013
Confirmation of acceptance: 30th June 2013
Full papers are to be sent before 25th July 2013
Kindly include the Name, address, contact number and email id in the abstract.
Organizing Secretary: Dr.T.Marx, Department of English

Address for Communication:

Department of English
Pondicherry University