IN SEARCH OF SOLUTIONS:
THE CONVENTIONAL, THE EXPERIMENTAL AND THE BIZARRE
Eleventh International Conference of
(The Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the World)
(The Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the U.S – India Chapter)
In collaboration with
(Osmania University Centre for International Programmes)
22-24 September 2011
at the Osmania University, Hyderabad
The 11th International conference of MELOW took place at Osmania University, Hyderabad, from 22 to 24 September 2011. The theme was "IN SEARCH OF SOLUTIONS: THE CONVENTIONAL, THE EXPERIMENTAL AND THE BIZARRE" and it was as impressive an event as expected. The Vice-Chancellor of Osmania University, Prof. S. Satyanarayana, inaugurated the conference. David Mees, Counsellor for Cultural Affairs, American Embassy, Delhi, was the Chief Guest.
Approximately 90 papers were presented at this three-day conference which was attended by scholars, teachers and researchers from India and abroad. Also participating in the conference were senior faculty members of Osmania University and the Central U of Hyderabad.
INAUGURATION: Prof C. Vijayasree, Director, OUCIP, welcomed the Vice-Chancellor, the Chief Guest and the delegates. She informed the gathering of the efforts to revive the OUCIP which was formerly the American Studies Research Centre and thanked the conference organizers for bringing the MELUS-MELOW conference back to Hyderabad after a gap of five years.
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof Satyanarayana, formally inaugurated the conference and expressed his pleasure at the fact that there was a buzz of activity in the OUCIP once more. He announced that the American Embassy had given a substantial grant to the Advanced Centre for American Studies which is also housed in the same building and is being looked after by Prof Vijayasree. The VC inaugurated the OUCIP website with a formal click of the mouse as the Librarian explained how all the books of the Centre would now be available for loan through the internet.
David Mees, the Counsellor for Cultural Affairs at the American Embassy, Delhi, Chief Guest at the Inaugural, informed the audience that he had recently arrived in India and was still getting used to his new environs. He said that the MELOW conference was his first in the country and that he was pleased to attend a gathering which promised great intellectual vigour. David Mees was accompanied by Ms Mandeep Kaur of the American Centre who is the Programs Officer at the American Center and has attended many of the earlier MELOW conferences. Mr Mees gifted a set of books to the OUCIP.
This conference was entirely self-funded: delegates who came from far and near made their own financial arrangements for participation and travel. Although MELOW had asked the American Centre as well as the USIEF for financial assistance, none came through. However, despite the lack of monetary assistance, the conference was good – very good – thanks to the enthusiasm of the delegates and with Osmania support.
RELEASE OF JOURNAL: Over the last ten conferences, selected papers presented at MELUS / MELOW conferences have been edited and published in critical anthologies. This year, however, following a decision taken at the last conference, the MELUS-MELOW Journal was launched. The first volume brings together twenty selected and edited papers from the 2010 conference. The journal, which will be published annually, was formally released by the Vice-Chancellor.
Prof Sushila Singh, President of MELOW, gifted a copy of the 2011 journal as well as the anthology comprising selected papers of the 2008 Santiniketan conference to OUCIP.
PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS: In her Presidential Address, Sushila Singh addressed several important issues. She focused on American Literature vis a vis world literature, the connections and interconnections between different world communities.
A Group Photo session in the lawns followed. As expected, it took a considerable amount of time for everyone to assemble. The numbers were great – more than a hundred – and everyone had to be included. The blinding sun above made everyone squint. However, the photo was taken and the excitement of the moment was frozen for all times to come. (It will be uploaded soon)
The high tea that followed was memorable, too. The plum cake in particular and the legendary Karachi Biscuits of Hyderabad were much appreciated.
PANEL DISCUSSION ON AMERICAN STUDIES: Although the Vice-Chancellor of Osmania remains very busy, he very graciously stayed on through the Inauguration but left soon after. David Mees, Cultural Counsellor from the American Embassy, stayed on for the panel discussion on American Studies in India.
There were four panellists who discussed various aspects of American Studies in India. Manju Jaidka gave a brief overview of the growth of American Studies and the manner in which it is no longer as popular as it used to be. E. Nageswara Rao, a veteran Americanist who has been the President of the Indian Association for American Studies for three terms, traced the history of the discipline from the earliest times to the present, highlighting the impact of political relationships on education. Sushila Singh spoke of the efforts to revive the discipline through talks with the UGC and the government at the Centre. The last speaker, Vijayasree, concluded the discussion by highlighting the efforts of OUCIP to restore American Studies to its previous stature through Refresher Courses, study and research grants. Among the delegates who participated in the discussion were Alladi Uma, Vijay Sharma and Andy Wang.
PARALLEL SESSIONS: Most of the conference sessions were parallel: there were 26 sessions in all, labelled A to Z. At any given time not more than three sessions were held simultaneously. Each speaker was allocated 20 to 30 minutes’ speaking time. These sessions were chaired by senior delegates who have been attending MELOW conferences over the years.
CHAIRPERSONS of the sessions included Profs. Karunaker, B.T. Seetha, Vijayasree and Vijay Kumar from Osmania; M. Sridhar and Alladi Uma from the Central University of Hyderabad; Vijay Sharma from Delhi; Anil Raina, Pratibha Nagpal, Mina Surjit Singh and Manju Jaidka from Panjab University; Jap Preet from Longowal, Pranav Joshipura from Gujarat; Himadri Lahiri and Sukla Basu from Bengal; Dipankar Purukayastha and NDR Chandra from the North-east, and Sushila Singh from BHU. Among the foreign delegates the following served as chairs: Igina Tattoni from Italy, Andy Wang from Taiwan, Wilfrid Samuels from the USA, Amin Malak from Canada, and Miryam Sivan from Israel.
Isaac Sequeira Memorial Award and Special Lecture:
Apart from the Inaugural session, two other plenary sessions were held at the conference, the first in which shortlisted ISM papers were presented by three young scholars: Nishat Haider, Rima Chakraborty, and Debalina Banerjee. The other plenary was a special invited lecture – the ISM lecture – which took place on the third day.
In memory of our leading patron, the late Prof Isaac Sequeira, a stalwart of the Osmania University and Director of the former ASRC, the Association gives an award to the best paper presented by a young scholar (below 40) at its conference. Prof Isaac Sequeira was much loved by his friends, colleagues and students who, along with his family members, contributed towards a special ISM fund. The award for 2010, which comprised a certificate and a cash prize of Rs. 2,500, was given by the Vice-Chancellor of Osmania to Purnendu Chatterjee of West Bengal at the Inaugural session of the conference.
In addition, MELOW holds a special Isaac Memorial invited lecture. This year's ISM invited lecture was delivered by the eminent Prof MG Ramanan of the Central University of Hyderabad. Speaking on the topic “The Figure the Poet Makes” Ramanan’s paper focused on English and American poetry, quoting liberally from leading poets. The vast range of his paper and his gentle persuasiveness kept the audience spell-bound.
Prof Ramanan also gave away the 2011 ISM award to Nishat Haider of Lucknow University. The procedure of selecting the ISM awardee has been streamlined with effect from this year (which is why two awards – for 2010 as well as for 2011 – were given at this conference). Instead of keeping the judgement and the prize pending for a year, this time MELOW followed a different format: entries were invited by a given deadline, all the papers submitted for the award were scrutinized in advance and the best three were short-listed and presented in a special plenary session. Marks awarded to the presentation were then added to the written paper and in the final Valedictory session the prize was given. It needs to be mentioned that this time the papers shortlisted were of a very high standard and the judges had a hard time coming to a decision. The competitors deserve applause for their performance.
VALEDICTORY: The Valedictory comprised a vote of thanks by the secretary, Manju Jaidka, an outline of future plans and activities, and a summing up of the conference in a short but witty concluding address by E. Nageswara Rao. Audited accounts of MELOW were presented by Prof Anil Raina, Treasurer.
FUTURE PLANS: The decisions taken are given as under:
Revised papers presented at this conference should be submitted by 15th November 2011 for possible publication in the next journal issue. The papers should be 3,000 to 5,000 words long and must follow the MLA Handbook, 6th or 7th edition. Along with the papers please submit a 100 word abstract and a list of Key words used. Submissions in any other format will not be considered. Revised papers may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org with a copy to email@example.com
The next International Conference will be held in the first half of February 2013 in Chandigarh. The exact dates will be announced in due course.
The suggested theme for the 2013 Conference is “Patterns of Story-telling: Tradition, Innovation, Visions and Revisions”. This broad umbrella theme will include several sub-themes like: (a) Adaptations and appropriations, (b) Theatre and performances, (c) Counter-narratives and revisionist texts, and (d) theoretical considerations. In addition there will be (e) creative writing sessions. Delegates submitting abstracts who wish to read their creative writing may send 2 poems or a short story of about 500 words for consideration.
[The formal call for papers will be announced shortly.]
Proposal of REGIONAL/State Level Seminars/Conferences under Melus-Melow
As the UGC recognises Conferences/Seminars at the Regional/State Level for
the calculation of API Scores, Melus-Melow proposes to encourage the
organization of such seminars under its banner (in collaboration with
Our next International Conference will be held in Feb 2013 in Chandigarh.
However, members may volunteer to organize Regional Seminars in 2012. For
this, they will have to send proposals for consideration of the MELOW
Executive Body. This will also help us in identifying efficient and
resourceful organizers, and suitable venues, for conducting future
*Guidelines for Regional Seminars:
Interested members will have to look for local reputed institutions which
may be interested in organizing the Seminar in collaboration with MELOW.
MELOW will not be responsible for funding the Seminar. The event has to be
self-financed out of Delegate Fees or local sponsorship.
Only MELOW members can present papers in the Seminar. Membership of
newly-made members at the Seminar will be deposited in MELOW Account.
The theme of the Seminar will have to be approved by MELOW Executive. We
encourage themes that explore Regional Literatures, while situating them in
the context of other Literatures.
MELOW will nominate two of its members to act as Observers in the Seminar.
Their Travel, board, and lodging will have to be paid by local organizers.
The Local organizers will have to submit a detailed report on the Seminar
(including income-expenditure Statement) to the MELOW Executive.
Some other suggestions:
The number of participants in the Seminar should preferably be between 30
It should be a two-day Seminar.
The Delegate Fee should be not above Rs. 600 for locals, and not above 1,000
for those who need accommodation (for one night only).
North: J&K, HP, Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, Chandigarh
Central: UP, Uttaranchal, MP, Chhatisgarh
West: Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa
South: AP, Tamilnadu, Kerala, Karnataka
East: West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand, North-East States.
Other highlights of the conference include a Daily Newsletter which was revived after several years by an anonymous group of delegates. There was an Exhibition of Pearls at the venue and delegates were seen making animated purchases. A Visit to Golconda Fort was organized to see the sound-and-light show at the historic monument.
MELOW (website www.melusmelow.org and blog www.melusmelow.blogspot.com) is an independent, registered, non-profit organization committed to the study World Literatures that came into being in 1998 as MELUS-India. A team of senior Professors from different universities in India and abroad manages the affairs of the Society. It has an International advisory board and to date it has held ten conferences.
MELOW has, over the years, established its credentials as a significant academic body that operates on world-class standards. It publishes selected conference papers and beginning this year, has begun publishing a refereed journal. In addition it gives an award to the best paper presented by a young scholar. Senior scholars are invited to deliver keynotes and special lectures.
Decisions regarding membership taken in the MELOW General Body Meeting on 24 Sep. 2011:
1. No new Life Members will be enrolled. This decision does not affect the status of earlier enrolled Life Members.
2. A New Category of 10-Year Membership will be introduced. Those interested may send Rs. 3000/- by DD in the name of MELOW payable at Chandigarh to Prof. Anil Raina, Dept. of English, Panjab University, Chandigarh, 160014, or make direct bank to bank transfer. Our account is with Canara Bank in Sector 14, Chandigarh: SB AC No 2845101001459; IFSC code: CNRB0002845. They will be enrolled members till 31st March 2021.
3. All those (non Life Members) who presented papers in Hyderabad are members till 31st March 2013. However, in case they send their 10-year membership now, it will be valid till 31st March 2023.
4. Two year Membership (up to 31.03.2013) has been raised to Rs. 600.
Office Bearers for MELOW, 2010 onward:
• President: Prof Sushila Singh, BHU, Varanasi.
• Vice-President: Prof Somdatta Mandal, Visvabharati, Santiniketan, WB.
• Secretary: Prof Manju Jaidka, PU, Chandigarh.
• Jt. Secy: Dr Manpreet Kaur, IPU, Delhi.
• Treasurer: Prof Anil Raina, PU, Chandigarh.
• Prof MG Ramanan (U of Hyderabad)
• Prof Gulshan Kataria (Pbi U, Patiala)
• Prof Tutun Mukherjee (U of Hyderabad)
• Dr Mukul Sengupta (Calcutta)
• Dr Himadri Lahiri (Kolkata)
• Dr Vijay Sharma (Delhi)
• Dr RG Kulkarni (Sangli)
• Dr Nandini Bhadra (Mumbai)
• Dr Roshan Sharma (Solan, HP)
• Dr Meenu Gupta (Chandigarh)
• Prof Paul Giles, Oxford University
• Prof Mukesh Williams, Soka University, Japan
• Prof Sushi Dutta-Sandhu, U Mich, Kalamazoo, USA
• Prof E. Nageswara Rao, Hyderabad
Panjab University: http://www.puchd.ac.in/