Distinguished Lectures

 

a.       Prof.  Madabusi Santanam Raghunathan, delivered a lecture on the topic “Mathematics: Art that Would Rather be Science?” on September 16, 2014. He began his presentation by explaining why Mathematics is generally considered a science and then went on to illustrate the characteristics that Mathematics shares with the Arts. In Prof. Raghunathan’s opinion, many mathematical developments over centuries have resulted from an aesthetic drive rather than an urge for understanding physical reality. On the other hand the mathematician is perhaps more at ease in the scientific milieu than in the world of artists. Prof. Raghunathan is currently the Head of the National Centre for Mathematics, Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai. After retiring in 2006 as Professor of eminence at TIFR, he continued to hold the Homi Bhabha Chair till 2011. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, of the Third World Academy of Sciences, and of the American Mathematical Society. He holds the distinction of being invited to give a talk at the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) when he was only 29. He has also been awarded the Padma Shri in 2001 & Padma Bhushan in 2012. In 1977, he was awarded the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award.

 

 

 

 

  1. On 31 January 2015, Janice Misurell Mitchell, composer, flutist and vocal artist, and faculty  at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, delivered a talk and did a performance/ demonstration on After the History: Poem, Politics, Performance.”After the History (1991), is a piece for voice/flute and percussion that is based on a poem by John Shreffler. The poem is a five-part cycle that serves as a meditation on the "end of the Cold War." The performance presented the text in dramatic form, and through musical representation of images in the work. Janice also shed light on the choices she made of various kinds of music, the political meanings embedded within them and how these elements interact in actual performance. Janice Misurell-Mitchell’s  most recent CD, Vanishing Points, music for solo, duo, quartet was chosen by Peter Margasak of The Chicago Reader as one of the top five new music recordings in “Our Favorite Music of 2013.” This recording and her previous CD, Uncommon Time, music for flute, voice and percussion, are on the Southport Records label. Her videos can be found on Youtube.

 

 

 

  1. Stathis Gourgouris, a Professor and Director of the Institute for Comparative Literature & Society, Columbia University, US spoke on the theme “Humanism, Human/ Animal and Human-being” on 25 February 2015. His talk called for a rethinking of humanism in today's globalized world (after the dead-end of European anti-humanism) and emphasized the need to create a new language that would articulate the precise terms of the historical ontology of the human/animal beyond the typical grounds of Western metaphysics (reason, language, culture).  Prof. Gourgouris is the author of Dream Nation: Enlightenment, Colonization, and the Institution of Modern Greece (1996), Does Literature Think? Literature as Theory for an Antimythical Era (2003), Lessons in Secular Criticism (2013) and editor of Freud and Fundamentalism (2010). He is also an internationally awarded poet and he writes regularly in internet media (such as Al Jazeera, The Immanent Frame, Re-Public), as well as major Greek newspapers and journals on political and literary matters.

 

d.      Prof. Amritjit Singh (Langston Hughes Professor of English, Ohio University and Visiting Fulbright-Nehru Professor of English, University of Delhi) delivered a lecture on “Challenges of Migration and Citizenship: African Americans and Asian Americans, 1850-1925”  on 9 February 2015. He explored from a comparative perspective the patterns of African Americans’ internal migration from the South after the Civil War and into the 1920s and the challenges that Asian immigrants from various locations faced in their search for “home” and citizenship from U.S. custom and law during the same years. In his view, no satisfactory understanding of citizenship in the U.S. can be achieved without examining the migratory patterns of “non-immigrant” groups such as African Americans and Chicanos and the often forced internal migrations of Native Americans; it is only with the emergence of some new global and transnational models of doing American Studies that we have the possibility of gaining a more layered understanding of citizenship and of “race” beyond the black-white equation. He also pointed out that 9/11 has crystallized the need for developing a more inclusive narrative of U.S. and Canadian citizenship. Singh has authored, edited, or co-edited over fifteen books, including Memory, Narrative and Identity (1994); Conversations with Ralph Ellison (1995); Memory and Cultural Politics (1996); Postcolonial Theory and the United States (2000); The Collected Writings of Wallace Thurman (2003); and Interviews with Edward Said (2004).

 

 

 

 

  1. “Literatures of the World: An Inquiry into the Possibilities for Literary Study in a Globalizing Context” was the title of the lecture that S. Shankar (Professor of English, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa) delivered on 24 March 2015. Prof. Shankar’s critical books are Textual Traffic: Colonialism, Modernity, and the Economy of the Text (SUNY Press, 2001) and Flesh and Fish Blood: Translation, Postcolonialism, and the Vernacular (2012, U of California P; South Asia edition from Orient Blackswan). In his presentation, S. Shankar explored models for the comparative study of literature within a global context and critiqued the current return to notions of World Literature in the American academy and elsewhere. He pointed out not only that the "world" in World Literature represents the globe in problematic ways but that "literature" too in such formulations is homogenized and drained of complexity. Shankar's critique was enabled by an engagement with developing notions of "literature" through the twentieth century within Tamil and, more nationally, Indian contexts. He demonstrated how these notions are often incompatible with the idea of World Literature. He concluded with an argument for what he calls "literatures of the world" (rather than World Literature) as a formulation through which literature might be studied comparatively.