Conference 2004

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The Writer’s Craft: From World Wars to Gulf Wars

Whatever else the previous century may or may not be remembered for, few would deny that devastating wars were part of its central experiences. The scientific and technological revolutions simultaneously demonstrated their ability to enhance life and to destroy it on a hitherto unseen scale. Two ‘world’ wars and other wars shook the globe as the old imperialist world order gave way in the face of anti-colonial and socialist challenges. The spectres of fascism and colonialism could not be banished before new and unprecedented weapons of mass destruction threatened mankind. The closing decade of the century following the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War saw the violent eruption of a variety of sectarian movements, in some cases taking terrorist forms. Not to be outdone by its predecessor, the new century has also started with guns booming and bombs pounding down, with war cries of the clash of civilisations and the threat of a new imperialism.

From the outset, the wars of the twentieth century posed new challenges for writing and all other art forms. How could the artist represent the experience of mechanised mass murder and destruction? What alternatives could the artist pose for the individual and for society and in what form? Aesthetic and political questions acquired a virulent intensity. Artists in all spheres – from the ‘traditional’ to those born of the technological revolution viz. photography and film – sought to revolutionise their tools and redefine their objects.

The wars of the new century are different in several respects: the nature of the modern technology of warfare, the ideology and geography of war, the role of modern media technology in bringing war as a ‘live’ serialised media event into the homes of billions of people in the furthest corners of the globe. In what forms do artists engage with the new character of wars?

The seminar will bring together scholars from different disciplines to reflect upon the issues raised by the wars from the onset of the previous century to contemporary times and to explore the artistic forms with which writers and other artists have responded.


Thursday, 26 February 2004, Auditorium, School of Environmental Studies

9.45 am

Opening Remarks

Vibha Maurya, Shaswati Mazumdar

10.15 am

Maria Velho da Costa

War: The Personal Factor



Chair: Vibha Maurya

11.00 am



11.15 am

Manfred Stassen

The Shield of Achilleus, or: The Heroic Code Undercut

12.00 am

Alessandro Portelli

Bombardments as metaphor: Memory and narrative of aerial warfare in Rome and its meanings



Chair: Kunal Chakravarty

12.45 pm



1.45 pm

K. Madavane

War, Theatre and Humour

2.30 pm

Abhai Maurya

Man in War and Peace (On the Front and in the Rear) in M. Sholokhov’s Works

3.15 pm



3.30 pm

Hartmut Eggert

The Possibilities of Popular Anti-War Aesthetics



Chair: J.P.S. Uberoi

Friday, 27 February 2004, Auditorium, School of Environmental Studies

9.45 am

Fatima Festic

The Alchemy of Horror: a woman's account

10.30 am

Shakira Hussein

Writing Gender in the War on Terror: Afghan women between the Taliban and the United States

11.15 am



11.30 am

Margit Köves

Hybridity and ethnic homogeneity in Svejk

12.15 pm

Kathleen Kerr

Frantz Fanon’s War



Chair: Jean-Marie Lafont

1.00 pm



2.00 pm

Gerhard Koch

Film screening following introduction: ‘The Battle of Algiers’ by Gillo Pontecorvo (1966)

4.00 pm



4.15 pm


Discussion on the film



Chair: Manfred Stassen

Saturday, 28 February 2004, Auditorium, School of Environmental Studies

9.45 am

Rashmi Joshi

Yordon Yovkov and War

10.30 am

Marta Fuentes

Absence and Internal Exile in Luis Cernuda’s Poetry

11.15 am



11.30 am

Krishnan Unni P.

Remembered Anguishes: Discourses of Memory in W.G. Sebald’s Works

12.15 pm

Subarno Chattarji

American Women’s Poetry and the Vietnam War



Chair: Padmini Mongia

1.00 pm



2.00 pm

Julieta Andrade

Un Unpleasant Book – The Young Generation Writing Aggression

2.45 pm

Sabine Grosser

Wars in the Arts: Contemporary Arts in the Face of Wars

3.30 pm



3.45 pm

Dirk Wiemann

Off the Record: The War on Iraq and Pop Music



Chair: Anil Bhatti

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