DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH, BERHAMPUR UNIVERSITY

&

FORUM ON CONTEMPORARY THEORY, BARODA

 

IV THEORY/PRAXIS COURSE

“SECULAR CRITICISM: THEORY, ETHICS & CRITICAL PRACTICE AFTER SAID”

JUNE 19 – JULY 15, 2006

 

Program Schedule

 

Inaugural Function

June 19, 2006

Venue: Conference Hall, Humanities Block

 

Chair: Prof. J.K. Baral

9:45 – 9:55 am:                       Welcome Address by Prof. B.K. Sahu, Chairman, P.G. Council, Berhampur University

9:55 – 10:10 am:                     Welcome and Introduction by Prof. P.C. Kar, Convenor, Forum on Contemporary Theory

10:10 – 10:20 am:                   Introduction of Guests and Faculty by Prof. D.D. Sahu, Coordinator, Department of English, Berhampur University

10:20 – 10:35 am:                   Introduction of Course Theme by Dr. D.K. Das, Coordinator, IV Theory/Praxis Course

10:35 – 10:45 am:                   Remarks by Prof. Bishnu Mohapatra, Program Officer, The Ford Foundation, New Delhi

10:45 – 10:55 am:                   Remarks by Prof. K.C. Baral, Member, National Advisory Committee, Forum on Contemporary Theory

10:55 – 11:15 am:                   Presidential Address by Prof. J.K. Baral, Vice-Chancellor,

11:15 – 11:20 am:                   Vote of Thanks by Prof. N.S.R. Ayengar

11:20 am – 11:45 pm:             Tea Break

 

11:45 am – 1:45 pm:               Public Lecture 1: “Apocalypse and Politics: Understanding the Career of an Imagination” by Dr. Bishnu Mohapatra

 

1:45 – 3:00 pm:                       Lunch

 

3:00 – 5:00 pm:                       Dr. Vivek Dhareshwar, “After Orientalism: Knowledge, Action and Experience”

 

 

FIRST WEEK

June 19 – 24, 2006

After Orientalism: Knowledge, Action and Experience

Core Faculty: Vivek Dhareshwar

 

June 20

9:00 am – 12:30 pm:               Session I: “After Orientalism: Knowledge, Action and Experience”

Required reading: Edward Said, Orientalism; Vivek Dhareshwar, “Valorizing the Present: Orientalism, Post-Coloniality and the Human Sciences”; S. Balagangadhara, “The Future of the Present: Thinking through Orientalism”; S. Balagangadhara, “Reconceptualizing the Postcolonial Project: Beyond the Strictures and Structures of Orientalism”; Uday Singh Mehta, Liberalism and Empire, pp. 1-45, 190-218; Akeel Bilgrami, “Occidentalism: The Very Idea: An Essay on Enlightenment and Enchantment”

 

12:30 – 2:00 pm:                     Lunch

 

2:00 – 4:00 pm:                       Bishnu Mohapatra, “My Engagement with Edward Said”

 

 

June 21

9:00 am – 12:30 pm:               Vivek Dhareshwar: Discussion

 

12:30 – 1:30 pm:                     Lunch

 

1:30  – 3:00 pm:                      Kailash C. Baral

 

3:00 – 3:30 pm:                       Tea

 

3:30 – 5:00 pm:                       Indira Choudhury, “Science and Empire: Is a Postcolonial History of Science Possible?”

 

June 22

9:00 am – 12:30 pm:               Session II: “After Orientalism: Knowledge, Action and Experience”

Required reading: Edward Said, Orientalism; Vivek Dhareshwar, “Valorizing the Present: Orientalism, Post-Coloniality and the Human Sciences”; S. Balagangadhara, “The Future of the Present: Thinking through Orientalism”; S. Balagangadhara, “Reconceptualizing the Postcolonial Project: Beyond the Strictures and Structures of Orientalism”; Uday Singh Mehta, Liberalism and Empire, pp. 1-45, 190-218; Akeel Bilgrami, “Occidentalism: The Very Idea: An Essay on Enlightenment and Enchantment”

 

12:30 – 1:30 pm:                     Lunch

 

2:00 – 4:00 pm:                       Public Lecture II: “Subnationalism, Homeland and Identity Politics in Northeast India” by Kailash C. Baral  

 

June 23

9:00 am – 12:30 pm:               Vivek Dhareshwar: Discussion

 

12:30 – 1:30 pm:                     Lunch

 

2:00  – 4:00 pm:                      Public Lecture III: “Lines on a Map: Revisiting the Two Cultures Debate” by Indira Chowdhury  

 

 

June 24

9:00 am – 12:30 pm:               Session III: “After Orientalism: Knowledge, Action and Experience”

Required reading: Michel Foucault, The Uses of Pleasure, pp. 1-94; Michel Foucault, “About the Beginning of the Hermeneutics of the Self”; Michel Foucault, The Hermeneutics of the Subject: Lectures at the College de France, pp. 205-329.

 

12:30 – 1:30 pm:                     Lunch

 

 

SECOND WEEK

June 26 – July 1, 2006

After Orientalism: Knowledge, Action and Experience

Core Faculty: Vivek Dhareshwar

 

June 26

9:00 am – 12:30 pm:               Session IV: “After Orientalism: Knowledge, Action and Experience”

Required reading: Michel Foucault, The Uses of Pleasure, pp. 1-94; Michel Foucault, “About the Beginning of the Hermeneutics of the Self”; Michel Foucault, The Hermeneutics of the Subject: Lectures at the College de France, pp. 205-329.

 

12:30 – 1:30 pm:                     Lunch

 

2:00 – 4:00 pm:                       Public Lecture IV: “Unbidden Voices: Community Media, Identity and Development” by Vinod Pavarala

 

June 27

9:00 am – 12:30 pm:               Vivek Dhareshwar: Discussion

 

12:30 – 1:30 pm:                     Lunch

 

1:30  – 4:30 pm:                      D. Venkat Rao, “Acts of Reading: Text, Context and Method”

 

3:00 – 3:30 pm:                       Tea

 

3:30 – 5:00 pm:                       Vinod Pavarala, “Alternative Media, Civil Society and the Public Sphere”

 

June 28

9:00 am – 12:30 pm:               Session V: “After Orientalism: Knowledge, Action and Experience”

Required reading: M.K. Gandhi, Hind Swaraj; Akeel Bilgrami, “Gandhi, the Philosopher”; S.N. Balagangadhara, “Comparative Anthropology and the Action Sciences: An Essay on Knowing to Act and Acting to Know”

 

 

12:30 – 1:30 pm:                     Lunch

 

1:30  – 3:30 pm:                      Public Lecture V: “Textlooms of Mnemoculture: Memory, History and the Archives of Betrayal” by D. Venkat Rao

 

 

June 29

9:00 am – 12:30 pm:               Vivek Dhareshwar: Discussion

 

12:30 – 1:30 pm:                     Lunch

 

 

June 30

9:00 am – 12:30 pm:               Vivek Dhareshwar: Discussion

 

12:30 – 1:30 pm:                     Lunch

 

2:00  – 4:00 pm:                      Public Lecture VI: “Cognitive Enslavement and the Integrity of Experience: Gandhi, the Gita and Action without Conception” by Vivek Dhareshwar  

 

July 1

9:00 am – 12:30 pm:               Session VI: “After Orientalism: Knowledge, Action and Experience”

Required reading: M.K. Gandhi, Hind Swaraj; Akeel Bilgrami, “Gandhi, the Philosopher”; S.N. Balagangadhara, “Comparative Anthropology and the Action Sciences: An Essay on Knowing to Act and Acting to Know”

 

 

12:30 – 1:30 pm:                     Lunch

 

  

THIRD WEEK

July 3 – July 8, 2006

Modernism/Postmodernism

Core Faculty: Prafulla C. Kar

 

July 3

9:00 am – 12:30 pm:               Session I: Panel Discussion on Modernism/Postmodernism

 

12:30 – 1:30 pm:                     Lunch

 

 

July 4

9:00 am – 12:30 pm:               Session I: “Modernity/Postmodernity”

Required reading: Immanuel Kant, “An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?”; Michel Foucault, “What is Enlightenment?”; Jean-Francois Lyotard, “Defining the Postmodern”; Jurgen Habermas, “Modernity – An Incomplete Project”

 

12:30 – 1:30 pm:                     Lunch

 

1:30 – 3:00 pm:                       Public Lecture VII: “Song of Myself” by Soubhagya K. Misra

 

 

July 5

9:00 am – 12:30 pm:               Session II: “Postcolonial Reading of (Post)Modernity”

Required reading: Immanuel Kant, “An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?”; Michel Foucault, “What is Enlightenment?”; Jean-Francois Lyotard, “Defining the Postmodern”; Jurgen Habermas, “Modernity – An Incomplete Project”

 

 

12:30 – 1:30 pm:                     Lunch

 

1:30 – 3:00 pm:                       Soubhagya K. Misra, “Oriya Literature and Oriya Identity”

 

3:30 – 5:00 pm:                       Public Lecture VIII: “Construction of an Identity Discourse: Oriya Literature and the Jagannath Cult, 1866-1936” by Subhakanta Behera

 

 

 

July 6

9:00 am – 12:30 pm:               Prafulla C. Kar: Discussion

 

12:30 – 1:30 pm:                     Lunch

 

 

July 7

9:00 am – 12:30 pm:               Session III: “Modernity/Postmodernity”

Required reading: Immanuel Kant, “An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?”; Michel Foucault, “What is Enlightenment?”; Jean-Francois Lyotard, “Defining the Postmodern”; Jurgen Habermas, “Modernity – An Incomplete Project”

 

 

12:30 – 1:30 pm:                     Lunch

 

July 8

9:00 am – 12:30 pm:               Prafulla C. Kar: Discussion

 

12:30 – 1:30 pm:                     Lunch

 

 

FOURTH WEEK

July 10 – July 15, 2006

Humanism, Post-Humanism

Core Faculty: R. Radhakrishnan

 

July 10

9:00 am – 12:30 pm:               Session I: “Humanism, Post-Humanism”

Required reading: Edward Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, pp. 1-56; Michel Foucault, The Order of Things, pp.344-387; Antonio Gramsci, “What is Man?”; Louis Althusser, “The Humanist Controversy”; Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, pp.210-232; Judith Butler, Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence, pp.19-49

 

12:30 – 1:30 pm:                     Lunch

 

July 11

9:00 am – 12:30 pm:               R. Radhakrishnan: Discussion

 

12:30 – 1:30 pm:                     Lunch

 

1:30 – 3:00 pm:                       Prafulla C. Kar: Discussion

 

July 12

9:00 am – 12:30 pm:               Session II: “Humanism, Post-Humanism”

Required reading: Edward Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, pp. 1-56; Michel Foucault, The Order of Things, pp.344-387; Antonio Gramsci, “What is Man?”; Louis Althusser, “The Humanist Controversy”; Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, pp.210-232; Judith Butler, Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence, pp.19-49

 

 

12:30 – 1:30 pm:                     Lunch

 

2:00 – 4:00 pm:                       Public Lecture IX: “Theory in the Classroom” by Prafulla C. Kar

 

July 13

9:00 am – 12:30 pm:               R. Radhakrishnan: Discussion

 

12:30 – 1:30 pm:                     Lunch

 

2:00  – 4:00 pm:                      Public Lecture X: “Grievable Life and Vulnerable Theory” by R. Radhakrishnan

 

 

July 14

9:00 am – 12:30 pm:               Session III: “Humanism, Post-Humanism”

Required reading: Edward Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, pp. 1-56; Michel Foucault, The Order of Things, pp.344-387; Antonio Gramsci, “What is Man?”; Louis Althusser, “The Humanist Controversy”; Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, pp.210-232; Judith Butler, Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence, pp.19-49

 

 

12:30 – 1:30 pm:                     Lunch

 

1:30 – 3:00 pm:                       R. Radhakrishnan: Discussion          

 

July 15

9:00 am – 11:00 pm:               Public Lecture XII: “Biblical Hermeneutics” by Fr. Mihir Upasi

 

11:30 – 1:00 pm:                     Valedictory Function

 

1:00 – 2:00 pm:                       Lunch

 

 

FOURTH THEORY/PRAXIS COURSE: A REPORT

By Dilip K. Das, Course Co-ordinator

 

 

            The IVth. Theory/Praxis Course of the Forum on Contemporary Theory, Baroda was conducted in collaboration with the Department of English, Berhampur University, Orissa. It was coordinated by Dr. Dilip K. Das, Reader in English, Berhampur University and was held at the St. Vincent’s Retreat-cum-Seminar Centre, Gopalpur-on-Sea from 19 June to 15 July, 2006. The theme of the Course was “Secular Criticism: Theory, Ethics & Critical Practice after Said.”

            The Inaugural Function of the Course was held at Berhampur University, in the Conference Hall of the Humanities Building, and was attended by the teachers and students of the University as well as the Course participants. The meeting was chaired by Prof. J.K. Baral, the Vice-Chancellor of the University. After a brief welcome by Prof. B.K. Sahu, in which he stressed the need for interdisciplinary courses of this kind, Prof. P.C. Kar, Convenor of the Forum and Director, Centre for Contemporary Theory, Baroda spoke about the various activities of the Forum and its role in developing and strengthening interdisciplinary cultural studies throughout the country. The objective of the Theory/Praxis Courses, Prof. Kar stated, was to bring theory to regions located outside metropolitan centres, in order to provide teachers and research scholars in these regions access to the latest developments in literary and cultural studies. Other speakers at the Inaugural Function included: Prof. K.C. Baral, Member, National Advisory Committee of the Forum and Director, Central Institute of English & Foreign Languages, Shillong; Prof. Bishnu Mohapatra, Program Officer in charge of Local and Global Governance, The Ford Foundation, New Delhi; and Prof. D.D. Sahu, Coordinator, Department of English, Berhampur University. Dr. D.K. Das, Coordinator of the Course, introduced the Course theme and spoke on the contribution of Edward Said to postcolonial studies. In his inaugural address, Prof. Baral spoke about the importance of postcolonial theory in the social sciences and humanities, and thanked the forum for giving the Forum the opportunity to conduct the programme. At the end of the meeting, Prof. N.S.R. Ayengar, Professor of English, Berhampur University gave the vote of thanks. After the Inaugural Function, Prof. Bishnu Mohapatra delivered a public lecture titled “Apocalypse and Politics: Understanding the Career of an Imagination,” in which he analysed the multiple functions of the apocalyptic mode in a medieval Oriya text, Achyutananda Das’s Mallika and its many versions in history.

            Prof. Vivek Dhareshwar, Centre for the Study of Culture and Society, Bangalore, engaged the first two weeks of the programme. Prof. Dhareshwar taught a course on “After Orientalism: Knowledge, Action and Experience,” in which he proposed a theory of Indian modes of thinking that differed sharply from the European. One of the problems with postcolonial studies, he argued, was that it continued to read Indian culture through Orientalist frames, thereby perpetuating what it set out to critique. Central to his argument was the thesis that Western knowledge was theory-driven and based on concepts of order and rationality that derived from the European Enlightenment, while Indian knowledge was action-oriented, context-specific and therefore not assimilable to the concepts that the Orientalists worked with. Prof. Dhareshwar’s lectures included critical reading of a number of key theoretical texts, including Said’s Orientalism, essays by S. Balagangadhara, Akeel Bilgrami, Uday Singh Mehta, Michel Foucault and one of his own essays on postcolonial studies. In his public lecture, “Cognitive Enslavement and the Integrity of Experience: Gandhi, the Gita and Action without Conception,” he offered a reading of Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj based on the idea of “action-knowledge” as a distinct mode of knowing and relating to the world. The salient point of this exciting and provocative series of lectures was the need to theorize our own experience as Asians/Indians, instead of depending on Western theories, in order to understand the value of our history.

            The second course of the programme, “Postcolonial Reading of (Post)Modernity” was scheduled for the third week and was to be taught by Prof. A. Raghurama Raju, Professor of Philosophy, University of Hyderabad, but he was unable to come due to ill health. Instead, Prof. P.C. Kar engaged the classes in the third week and taught a course on “Modernism, Postmodernism.” Beginning with Immanuel Kant’s and Michel Foucault’s essays on the Enlightenment, Prof. Kar discussed the forms of modernist epistemology in Europe and its impact on Western modes of thinking. In the latter part of his course, he discussed postmodernism’s problematic relation with modernist knowledge and representation, and examined the arguments of key postmodern thinkers like Jean-Jacques Lyotard, Jurgen Habermas, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault and Jean Baudrillard. Prof. Kar’s public lecture, titled “Theory in the Classroom,” dealt with the turn to theory in literary and cultural studies in the second half of the twentieth century and the impact it has had on pedagogy. The questions that he raised were highly relevant to English studies in India, where theory is simultaneously perceived as enabling in some situations yet sterile and inconsequential in others – especially when concepts developed in the West seem to have little validity in a radically different cultural milieu.  How far, for instance, do postmodern theories of culture apply to India when our society can hardly be described as ‘postmodern’?

            The third course, titled “Humanism, Post-humanism” was offered by Prof. R. Radhakrishnan, Professor of Asian-American Literature, University of California at Ervine, USA. Prof. Radhakrishnan’s lectures centered on the various definitions of the ‘human’ and the ‘human sciences’ in Western thought, based on close readings of Edward Said, Michel Foucault, Antonio Gramsci, Louis Althusser, Frantz Fanon and Judith Butler. He brought out some of the problems and contradictions in the use of the term ‘humanism’, especially following the Enlightenment, when it referred to a specific category of the human – the European subject – and ruled out others such as the peoples of Asia and Africa in the interests of power. The critique of humanism in thinkers like Althusser, Derrida and Foucault is to be understood in this specific context. However, as Said argues in Humanism and Democratic Criticism, there is a larger understanding of humanism that can be ethical and transformative, which literary and cultural studies should not undermine or neglect. In his public lecture, “Grievable Life and Vulnerable Theory” Prof. Radhakrishnan spoke on the role of ethics in critical practice. How do we ethicize a discipline? What specific problems does disciplinarity pose for ethical inquiry? Prof. Radhakrishnan stressed the need, on the one hand, to take responsibility for our disciplinary locations and, on the other, to push the limits of the discipline so as to engage with ethical issues that are otherwise ruled out.

            In addition to the courses offered by the core faculty, there were a number of classroom and public lectures by invited faculty. Prof. Bishnu Mohapatra’s public lecture, with which the programme began, has already been mentioned. In his classroom lecture, he spoke about his personal encounter with Edward Said’s work and how it provided new directions to research in the social sciences in the 1980s. Prof. Indira Choudhury of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai spoke on the culture of scientific knowledge. Her classroom lecture discussed the debate between C.P. Snow and F.R. Leavis over the values of literary versus scientific knowledge, a schism that in many ways continues even while it is sought to be overcome in interdisciplinary studies.  Her public lecture, titled “Science and Empire” discussed the colonialist underpinnings of scientific discourse in India and proposed ways of writing a critical postcolonial history of science. Prof. Kailash Baral’s classroom lecture dealt with postcolonial experience and contemporary Indian literature, while his public lecture was on “Subnationalism, Homeland and Identity Politics in Northeast India.” Prof. Baral, who has lived in the Northeast for more than three decades, examined the complex manner in which local and national political/economic interests have shaped the struggle for homeland in this region, which should therefore not be understood as a straightforward claim for cultural uniqueness and authenticity. Prof. D. Venkat Rao, Professor of English at CIEFL, Hyderabad, spoke on future directions of critical humanities in India and the cultural politics of reading practices. In his public lecture, titled “Textlooms of Mnemoculture: Memory, History and the Archives of Betrayal,” he discussed the impact of colonial modes of knowledge on a culture of memory and examined in this context the works of Vemana. Prof. Vinod Pavarala, Professor of Communications at the University of Hyderabad, gave a public lecture titled “Unbidden Voices: Community Media, Identity and Development,” in which he examined the role of community radio in the developing communities that are not connected to mainstream resources. In his classroom lecture, he spoke on the use of alternative media in community development and discussed a number of case studies. Prof. Soubhagya K. Misra’s public lecture was on the various influences on his own poetry and the literary and social contexts of his work. Prof. Misra is an Oriya poet of repute, and has won a number of major awards including a Kendriya Sahitya Akademi Award and an Honorary Fellowship of the International Poetry Workshop at Iowa, USA. In his classroom lecture, Prof. Misra discussed the emergence of an Oriya cultural consciousness in the early 20th century and its impact on Oriya literature. Dr. Subhakanta Behera’s public lecture was on the influence of the Jagannath cult in shaping the literary culture of Orissa between the Na’anka Famine of 1866 and 1936, the year Orissa was formed as a separate state. His talk was based on his D.Phil. thesis at Oxford University, which has been published as a book titled Construction of an Identity Discourse: Oriya Literature and the Jagannath Cult, 1866-1936. On the closing day of the Course, Fr. Mihir Upasi gave a public talk on Biblical hermeneutics.

            The Valedictory Function was held at 11:30 am. on July 15 and was chaired by Prof. J. K. Baral, Vice-Chancellor of Berhampur University. Among the speakers were Prof. D. D. Sahu, Dr. R. N. Panda, Dr. D. K. Das, Dr. Margaret Zama, Dr. H. S. Chandalia and Ms. Jayashree Vekatdurai.