TMYS Review December 2020 - Sensuosity & Sexuality in Contemporary Narrative - Abstracts

    SENSUOSITY & SEXUALITY IN CONTEMPORARY NARRATIVE : Collection of Essays and Short Stories

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    Title: Can the Pandora’s Box be Closed: Sensuous Sensuosity and Senseless Sexuality in Namita Gokhale’s A Himalayan Love Story

    Author: Dr. Smithi Mohan J S

    Author intro: Smithi Mohan J S is Assistant Professor of English at Government College for Women, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.  She is interested in the myriad dimensions of the socio cultural ramifications of literary studies.


    Namita Gokhale’s A Himalayan Love Story revolves around the life of Parvati, a young, beautiful and blooming, but seemingly doomed woman. Parvati experiences paradisiacal bliss in her life, but unfortunately, outside the limits set for expressions of desire.  Bounded sexuality traps her burgeoning femininity and ultimately, she finds herself ineffectual to escape the muddle in which she is seemingly entangled. The people in Parvati’s life also fail to untangle those knots. Thus, the novel succinctly problematizes the evolved predispositions, individual personality, fostering the physiological, psychological, social, cultural, political and spiritual aspects of passions and forbidden passions. The tragedy is placed in sharp contrast with the sensuous sensuosity she relished as she was blossoming. The suppositions we make as we understand the inexplicable nature of desire which gets manifested in umpteen shades in the novel heightens the irony and makes us ponder the futility of ‘potently impotent’ refrains of liberation.  In this context, my paper is an attempt to analyze how the boundaries of the platonic notions of love blur and form a seamless whole within the contradictory notions of the endless tale of love and lust, duty and desire, sensuosity and sexuality. It tries to understand how the novel succeeds in simultaneously shuttling across mainstream and borderline subjectivities and plays out upon a complex topography where questions of history, society, politics, culture, gender, and sexuality transect.



    Title: Saffron – A Door in Consciousness. A Critique of Saikat Majumdar’s The Scent of God

    Author: Deyasini Roy

    Author intro: Deyasini Roy is a promising young poet who hails from Chandannagar, a town in the Indian state of West Bengal. She’s recently completed her postgraduate degree in English and Comparative Literature from Pondicherry University, India.  Poetry occupied a conspicuous part of her childhood and therefore she would certainly spare no pains in seeing her tender thoughts sprout. She’s greatly influenced by the British and American Romantic Poets especially William Wordsworth and Walt Whitman. She’s contributed to the esteemed International Almanac of World Poetry, The Muse of New Paradigm: An Entry into Poepro, Plethora's International Coffee Table Book, Volume 1, Freedom Raga 2020, Indian Summer in Verses and various International Online Magazines of repute including The Glomag, The Harbinger Asylum, Different Truths and Universul Culturii of late. She has won International poetry contests online and was conferred with the South Asian Literary Award by SahityaDeshkaal, The Mirror of Time on 3rd of November 2019. She has recently won the Nobel laureate Kabi Rabindranath Tagore Award in February 2020. She has been nominated for the iWoman Global Awards 2020. She loves to set recourse to the idyllic and pastoral and record her sensitive and impressionistic response to the lilting cadence of Nature rendered in a swirl of lurid slashes and subtle brush strokes.


    The essay aims at highlighting the true essence of brotherhood, carrying in its womb 'the scent of god', the transformative power of consciousness in dissecting the socio-psychological misogynistic makeup of heterosexism erasing subjectivity. It emphasizes the liberating possibilities of homosexuality: the rite of passage of brotherhood and selfhood that culminates in a revolutionary leap forward into a new societal order based on egalitarianism and an intuitive leap beyond the mind into the mystery of mutual containedness in the realm of consciousness: a plenary self-integration of an individual self in a society of other selves from the Psychic, Cosmic and Existential Perspectives in multidimensional ways for the manifestation of the Transcendental-Spiritual order. The essay also talks about the sensoriness of idolatrous polytheistic iconography and how the iconographic symbolism embedded in Hinduism gives birth to the 'terrifying beauty' called Art.


    Title: Self-will versus Fate in Sangeeta Bandopadhyay’s The Yogini – A Sociological Analysis.

    Author: Sada Tanvir

    Author intro: Sada Tanvir is a post graduate from Aligarh Muslim University. She has completed her degree in sociology with distinction in October, 2020. As a student of social work and sociology, she has served as an intern at Indian Red Cross Society, outreach programs at the district prison of Aligarh. She has done various case-studies in the department of gynaecology and obstetrics, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Aligarh. She enjoys doing things that provides her with a much deeper insight into complex issues and an ability to develop ideas using her own initiative. In her spare time, she enjoys reading motivational books, socialising with friends and going out to explore new places especially of historical significance. She has keen interest in photography and food as well.


    This essay seeks to answer several questions, including the following—Is Homi guided by her self-will, or is her fate to be blamed? Has finding her purpose in life led her to forsake a blissfully married life and her successful career? Is pre-destination a real thing? What different roles does a woman play and what are the levels of societal expectations from her as a woman? Is marriage supposed to gratify only one’s sexual needs and not their sensual needs? The author attempts to answer these questions sociologically through theories of Durkheim, Weber and Pritchard, and by using perspectives of radical and liberal feminists.


    Title: Sensuosity and Sexuality in One Part Woman through the lens of Archetypal Criticism

    Author: Chandna Singh Nirwan

    Author intro: Chandna Singh Nirwan is an academician, an author and a thinker. She did her Masters in English from Christ University (2011-13), Bangalore and is pursuing PhD in English from NIT, Jaipur. She cleared NET (English) in April 2016. Chandna has also authored a book titled An Ecocritical Reading of Tess of the D’Urbervilles. This book is a result of her research in the field of ecocriticism. It takes into account the symbiotic relationship humans share with nature, with the ecosystem as the heart of universe as opposed to the egotistical, self-centered attitude of mankind. Presently her areas of research are Dalit literature, myth and folklore.


    The unconscious is a realm which houses one’s deep dark desires and honest ideas. Jung opined that there are two layers to the unconscious, i.e., the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. The collective unconscious can be thought of as a universal repository shared by all mankind, while the personal unconscious comprises of one’s own desires, values and wishes. The unconscious expresses itself through projection in the form of archetypes, which can then be perceived by the conscious mind. In a novel, archetypes are images, settings, characters, objects, or the plot.

    I wish to analyse this book from the point of view of archetypes and myth. Archetypal theories by Carl Gustave Jung and Northrop Frye will make the basis for my study of archetypal images and myths in this novel. It is important to understand the various archetypes such as images, characters, settings, as well as community and cultural myths to appreciate this beautiful work which keeps at its core the unison of two people as a complete bond in itself like Eeswaran and Ambal.

    The essence of the story of One Part Woman is Kali’s and Ponna’s bond, which is likened to the androgynous form of Lord Shiva, where he coexists with Sakthi or Parvati. The archetypal images of the androgynous Lord have been analysed through Jungian archetypes of anima and animus. The trickster archetype, the old man archetype, animal and nature archetypes, and imagery have been a part of my research to examine and comprehend the author’s intention behind this work. The symbols in the novel such as “cave” and “serpents” make for significant archetypal associations with the unconscious. In this essay, I have attempted to analyse the setting from a critical perspective because setting includes nature, environment and surrounding which cannot be ignored as the characters are uniquely tied with these elements. For instance, even a tree holds its own value and becomes a precious gift by a son-in-law who himself enjoys a tranquil sleep in its shade and notices the trimming of its branch as a “wound”. The forest deity with “vermillion”, “bald rock” temples, “gods” of the eighteenth night, and many more such allusions to myth and archetypes will be analysed to not only understand the writer’s ideas, but to also understand a community psyche.


    Title: Sita - The Symbol of Nature, The Victim of Culture. Based on Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s The Forest of Enchantments.

    Author : Nandini Bhatia

    Author intro : Nandini Bhatia is a Postgraduate in Psychology from Delhi University. She says that her education and field work has broadened her understanding of the social world we live in and various sections of the society have sensitized her worldview, including her field experience with Blind Women, Deaf Artists, Juvenile Delinquents, Children with Autism and Partition Refugees. Apart from that, she is also an avid reader and an occasional writer. As a reader, she finds herself inclined towards humanitarian genres such as Gender Studies, Mythology, History, Displacement, Refugee Crisis, Environmental issues and Politics. As a writer, she publishes book reviews and insights on the reader's life, using humour to make her writing relatable and applicable. Currently, she is trying her hand at writing short stories.


    The essay identifies the multi-layered feminist as well as the feminine voice in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s The Forest of Enchantments, a retelling of the renowned epic, the Ramayana. It analyses the ‘complexity of female existence’ that Divakaruni and her female protagonist introduces to us in the book. The essay lists out the various themes persistent in the novel such as misogyny, patriarchy, solidarity, separation, loss, love and desire, emphasizing its focus on two of them, namely Sensuality and Sexuality, in terms of their experience and expression by the female characters in the book. The female characters in the book are analysed individually and in relation to one another and the phases of womanhood and wifehood are closely referred to, while understanding Sensuality and Sexuality and their experience and expression. These themes are also linked to the Economy of Gender and the Politics of Gender, respectively. The essay makes an attempt to understand the social engineering of these terms and the manner in which they are perceived in the society, linking them to the principles of Nature, Culture, Societal Norms and Gender Performativity, as present in the Indian consciousness. This essay also lays a comparison between the society that was and the one that is, drawing traditional similarities in struggles of women to freely express themselves as well as similarities in the consequences that follow, both individual and collective. These consequences are understood in terms of the privilege of one gender over another and in terms of assumed liberties of caste and class. It also comments on the significant role of Mythology and History in shaping human nature and its influence on societies, especially the emergence of patriarchal norms and the status of women. Finally, the essay closes with a summary of the purpose of the book, The Forest of Enchantments, and the importance of a retelling in the female voice, proposing possible solutions for a better society beyond gender differences.


    Title: Women in Tuhin A. Sinha’s The Edge of Desire – Textuality of Sensuosity and Sexuality

    Author: Arundhati Biswas

    Author Intro: Arundhati Biswas has completed Post-Graduation in English Literature from M.U.C Women’s College, Burdwan and Post-Graduation Diploma Management in Human Resource Management from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata. She has been working in a multinational company for more than five years and has participated in various behavioral and professional skill enhancement trainings which would help in facilitating business and technology transformation. She takes keen interest in diasporic writings and finds it all the more intriguing because of the type of environment she works where multicultural employees across the borders work on the common platform and share their experiences after travelling onsite for work. She loves reading works of Indian writers writing in English because of the way the language in constructed to give the touch of Indianness to the plot. Her hobbies apart from reading includes photography and watching travel documentaries.


    The disrobing of Draupadi in the Mahabharata has been a symbol of universal injustice upon a woman, inflicted by the male-dominated society where she lives. Rape is not about sex, but power, and is an instrument of oppression whenever scores need to be settled. In The Edge of Desire, Tuhin A. Sinha vividly pens down the various mazes of emotions in a dark sensuous woman, Shruti, whose rape becomes a matter of fundamental importance for the character development of the protagonist. Shruti Ranjan is often compared to Draupadi because of her complex relationships with men and her destiny is paved by her mentor and she acknowledges his role to that of Krishna.

    Shruti’s fight for justice brings forth the question whether every woman is privileged enough to fight the battle, and if intervention of Krishna, or Sharad, is required so that a woman can be heard. Shruti is that self-sacrificing, educated woman who begins to question the prevalent customs which dictate her marriage, career and character. The novel invites empathy for the protagonist and successfully endorses her stance without highlighting a critical and distant view of her situation. Shruti indeed asks an interesting question about the happenings in the Mahabharata about whether Draupadi knowingly plays alongside Krishna. The author throws a strong social message, making his readers aware of the fact that a woman should be a subject of her own self, logic, rational, desire and identity, rather than the object of the society she lives. The women in the novel form a regiment where each has a battle of her own. The individual battles make their life meaningful and significantly different.


    Title: Objectification of Women’s Sexuality and its Impact – A Critical Exploration of Kiran Manral’s Missing, Presumed Dead

    Author: Rabiya Yaseen Bazaz

    Author intro: Rabiya Yaseen Bazaz has completed her Ph.D. in Sociology from Department of Sociology, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, India. She has worked on areas like sociology of education, employment and work, gender inequality and stratification, labour market, social policies and development. She has published many research articles in Scopus and peer-reviewed journals. She has presented papers in many national and international conferences.


    Sexuality refers to the sexual feeling and sexual behavior which is expressed in many ways like sexual intercourse, physical contact, eroticism, etc. Sexuality is not only confined to physical attraction. One can find other people physically, emotionally, ideologically, and attitudinally sexual. Besides, physical component sexuality has emotional, psychological, biological, social and cultural components as well. In a patriarchal society, women's status is considered lower than men, and often various means and practices are adapted to control and use ‘women's sexuality’. Women's sexuality is often confined to certain physical attributes, which are defined and determined by the third person, especially media, and is considered valuable only if it appears attractive to a man. This objectification of women's sexuality, where women are valued on the basis of their sexual attractiveness rather than their skills and overall personality is a pervasive tendency that permeates in most developed and developing countries. Besides, internal and external agencies promote sexual objectification of women; traditional gender roles promote and naturalize objectification of women's sexuality. This focus on physical appearance affects women’s inner states, by leading them to self-objectification which impact women and their interpersonal and sexual relationships, and thereby, paves way for various social evils and crises in dyadic relationships. With this background using analytical perspective, this article will critically explore the issue of women's sexuality where the focus will be on understanding why and how women's sexuality is objectified and its impact on women in particular and on wider society in general.


    Title: Why ‘they’ Killed Albatross: The Metaphorical Study of India as a Disease to India’s North-East, in Aruni Kashyap’s The House with a Thousand Stories

    Author: Dr. Shikha Thakur

    Author intro: Shikha is currently working as an Assistant Professor in the department of English in Lovely Professional University, Jalandhar. Qualifying UGC-NET and HP-SET, she has studied PhD English from Central University of H.P. She has published more than thirty research papers along with nine conference/seminar(s) to her credit and is currently supervising various PhD and MPhil students. In addition to seven years of research experience, she also has a teaching experience of around five years, working with eminent universities like DAV, CUHP, HPU and LPU. Shikha wishes to expand her credentials infinitely.


    When people see things as beautiful, ugliness is created. When people see things as good evil is created, being and non-being produce each other. Difficult and easy complement each other. Long and short define each other. High and low oppose each other. Before and after follow each.

    Tao Te Ching (n.pag.)

    The paper, based on a novel set against the backdrop of insurgency, attempts to examine Indian politics while simultaneously highlighting India’s North-eastern natural aesthetics. The study builds on India’s Northeast post-1947 as a fresh Albatross—a metaphor of good omen—to the current times as a killed Albatross—a metaphor of psychological burden inundated in a curse. Through the elemental factors in the India’s Northeast—transportation, medical, language, education, employment, and appearance, to name a few—the study endeavours to create a topic abounding in the fomented insurgency. Comprehensively, the tormented state of affairs—resulting in ULFA, SULFA, Bodo rebels and Karbi rebels in India’s eight percent of total geographical area—is now a disease causing dis-ease to India and vice-versa. Metaphorically, building on the albatross, the paper examines India as a dis-ease to India’s Northeast and vice-versa, while concomitantly attempting to direct how India’s Northeast survives the disease through its aesthetically sensuous cosmic world.


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