From 23 February to 1 March 2017, a 7-day Winter School on “Literature in a Globalized World” took place at the Centre for English Studies Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. The participants were some 15 students from JNU as well as a group of 8 students from the Department of English Philology at Julius Maximilians Universität, Würzburg, Germany. Co-organizers Prof. Saugata Bhaduri and Prof. Isabel Karremann had invited six international scholars who presented their current research in lectures and workshops, engaging the participants in discussions about texts, concepts and theories from the field of literary globalization studies. The Winter School was organised around three thematic cores: transcultural poetics and adaptation, histories of globalization, and ecocritical questions.
The first keynote lecture was delivered by Dr. Ranjan Ghosh from the University of North Bengal, who is the co-author, together with J. Hillis Miller, of Thinking Literature across Continents (2016). His talk explored the possibilities for ‘doing literature globally’ from an interdisciplinary perspective that draws on concepts from the sciences as well as from philosophy, a topic that was developed further in a workshop on “Transcultural Poetics” the following day. ‘Doing literature ecocritically’ was at the heart of the workshop with Dr. Sumana Roy, an internationally acknowledged poet, writer and scholar, who read from her latest book How I Became A Tree. The challenges that literature faces in a globalized world were examined by novelist and scholar Prof. Saikat Majumdar from Ashoka University, whose novel The Firebird is currently being adapted for the screen: Prof. Majumdar raised the question of what kind of novel might be apt for offering a counter-balance to the more pernicious effects of globalization, given that the novel co-evolved with a bourgeois capitalist worldview since the eighteenth century. Prof. Jonathan Gil Harris (Ashoka University), an eminent expert on Shakespeare and early modern discourses of the foreign spoke about his research on “Masala Shakespeare” a concept designed to capture both the way in which Shakespeare’s work has been adapted for the screen in India and the qualities of language and sound, the specific “Masala music”, that make his plays so eminently adaptable to this different cultural context. Prof. Madavi Menon (also from Ashoka) then spoke about “The History of Desire in India”, a talk that prepared the group for the following joint workshop on Omkara, diretor Vishal Bhardwaj’s 2006 adaptation of Othello. The Winter School concluded with a final keynote lecture and a one-day workshop given by Prof. Isabel Hofmeyer, Professor of African Literature at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, as well as Global Distinguished Professor of English at New York University, that introduced the group to the research field of ‘oceanic humanities’, productively situated between globalization studies and ecocritical studies.
The intellectual programme was complemented by a cultural one: a day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Qutb Minar, the craft market Dilli Haat and Safdarjung’s Tomb allowed all participants to explore the remains of Delhi’s colonized and globalized past as well as the rich crafts culture of the subcontinent.