English and Scottish Literature

Decolonising Modernism(s)

In brief

Title - Decolonising Modernism(s)

Venue - Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, 2 Hope Park Square

Organisers - Dr Arka Chattopadhyay (IIT Gandhinagar) and Dr Sourit Bhattacharya (University of Edinburgh)

Symposium highlights - Three panels and an online digital exhibition

About the event

This one-day symposium came in the wake of the centennial year of 1922 when T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land and James Joyce’s Ulysses ushered in a new era of ‘High Modernism’ in European literary history. What the Eurocentric discussions of 1922 Modernism often forget is that Rabindranath Tagore’s book of genre-bending texts, Lipika, was published in the same year, as was his play, ‘Muktodhara’ (‘The Waterfall’). If a Nobel laureate like Tagore can fall through the cracks, we can imagine the situation with other less visible writers in India’s multiple linguistic traditions, and throughout the rest of the world!

The purpose of this symposium was to decolonise modernism(s) by approaching it afresh from the perspective of world literature(s), while looking at the diversity of identity categories like race, class, caste, gender, ethnicity, nationality and diaspora. In addition, we focused on the ‘webzine’ as an alternative publishing platform for creating a transnational modernist network.

We discussed these multifarious dwellings of modernism(s) in multiple geographies to show how it diversifies itself according to race, class, caste, gender and the publishing platform. The symposium addressed the urgent need to plasticise modernisms and observed how literary traditions of modernism are dialectically reinvented in a transnational and decolonial movement. The symposium was accompanied by a digital exhibition of the webzine, Kaurab Online.

This event was supported through the Susan Manning Workshop Fund at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH), University of Edinburgh.

Visit IASH's website

How to attend

This event was free and open to all. Virtual tickets granted access via a Zoom Webinar link on Eventbrite.


Time Event Speaker(s) and Subject
10:00am Welcome -
10:15am Opening Remarks Dr. Arka Chattopadhyay and Dr. Sourit Bhattacharya
10:30 - 11:45am Panel 1: Reorienting the Modernist Canons (25 minute papers and 15 minutes Q&A)

1. Daniel Hartley (Durham University): “Grounding Modernism: The Cultural Stakes of the 21st-Century Agrarian Question.”

2. Hannah Simpson (University of Edinburgh): “Decolonising the Theatre of the Absurd.”

11:45 - 12 noon Tea break -
12:00 - 1:15pm Panel 2: Identities in Modernism (25 minute papers and 15 minutes Q&A)

3. Norman Ajari (University of Edinburgh): “Black Internationalism and the Prehistory of Afrofuturism: on George Schuyler’s Black Empire.”

4. Priyanka Tripathi (IIT Patna): “The Oppressed Oppressors?: Multidimensional Masculinity and the Depiction of Men in Select Indian Fiction from Dalit Women Writers.”

1:15 - 2:30pm Lunch break -
2:30 - 3:45pm Panel 3: Avenues of Modernism [25 minute papers and 15 minutes Q&A]

5. Shalini Sengupta (University of Vienna): “Diasporic Modernisms and Indian Women’s Writing in English.”

6. Aryanil Mukherjee (poet and engineering mathematician, Cincinnati, USA): “Advancing Experimental Bengali Poetry and Poetics in Digital Domain.” (online)

3:45 - 4:00pm Kaurab Online Digital Exhibition -
4:00 - 4:30pm Closing Remarks and Discussion -

Related links

Read more about Arka's research

Read more about Sourit's research

A pile of water canisters arranged in a semi-circle on top of each other, they are reminiscent of faces
Jun 28 2023 -

Decolonising Modernism(s)

A one-day hybrid symposium on decolonising modernism(s), coordinated by Dr Arka Chattopadhyay and Dr Sourit Bhattacharya.

2 Hope Park Square
Meadow Lane