Saturday, June 6, 2015


(The Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the World)


Title: Towards Praxis: Literature, Society and Politics
To be hosted by Indraprastha University, New Delhi, India
Tentative dates: 19-21 Feb 2016

We live in a fast-paced age with our attention distracted by high-tech gadgets, computers, smart phones, and other devices that are meant to provide a short cut to ‘success.’ At the same time, we have become suspicious of all ideas, all concepts, that attempt to map this fast-paced life. Being unable to live with the notion of ‘essences’, we live now in a world of cognitive incertitude. From Prufrock’s “It is impossible to say just what I mean,” we, in our postmodernist technology-savvy world, have graduated to rejoice not only at our growing command over technology, but surprisingly also at our inability to ‘mean’.
Where, in this hurly burly of life, this ‘chaosmos’, does literature stand today? Is it totally irrelevant or does it still serve a serious purpose, refining our finer sensibilities, adding an ‘aesthetic’ touch to human life, keeping it connected with the ‘higher’ aspects of life? To modify the question Auden asked, does literature make anything happen? Does it make us better human beings? Does it have a civilizing effect on society? Or is it absolutely irrelevant in today’s world, in spite of the gender, race, class, caste, and ecological issues that it often raises?
For centuries, we have been debating whether literature just reflects life or really transforms us by reflecting on life. Does a literary text change the way we think, or live, or act? Does it address the issue of our ‘constructedness’? Does it only show us the possibilities for future, or does it give us a direction, too? Does it help us adapt to changes that have already taken place, or does it help us change the world through ‘the ethics of resilience.’ The issue of ‘human transformation’ becomes more significant in the supposedly post-humanist universe that we are supposed to be already in, or perhaps entering.
The MELOW 2016 conference would focus on the relevance of literature and on how effective a literary text is in changing the social fabric of the world. It will explore the innate power of literature to transform the world and debate on related issues. Abstracts not exceeding 250 words are invited on the issues listed below. They should be sent to the respective panel heads (email ids given) by the 31st of August 2015.
1.    Theoretical considerations: Is literature relevant in today’s world? Is it possible for literary texts to change the world/society? What is the relationship between literature and active politics? Send abstracts to Prof Anil Raina
2.    Books that changed the world: Literary landmarks written with a specific social agenda.  Send abstracts to Dr Roshan Sharma.  
3.    Children’s Literature: fairy tales, adventure stories, moral tales and nonsense literature. What purpose do they serve? Send abstracts to Prof Manju Jaidka.
4.    The uses of escapist literature:  Fantasy, science fiction, gothic and horror stories.  Utopias and Dystopias. Send abstracts to Dr. Manpreet Kang.
5.    Science and speculative fiction: the futuristic and the posthuman. Send abstracts to Prof. Ashis Sengupta.    

Instructions to all prospective delegates:
Your abstract (of about 250 words) should be sent in the TEXT BOX of the email (not as attachment). The following information, in the given format, should be sent along with the abstract:

Name of Delegate
Official designation
Email id
MELUS/MELOW conferences attended earlier (in which year and where)
Are you currently a member of MELUS or MELOW? Or do you need a fresh / renewed membership? Please specify.
Title of Abstract
ABSTRACT [Text] 250 words max.

·       The subject line of your message should read thus:
•        ABSTRACT 2016: [YOUR NAME] and [If applicable, state if you are an Indian citizen below 40, competing for the ISM award]*
•        Deadline for receipt of abstracts is 31 Aug 2015 
All abstracts will be peer-reviewed before they are accepted. Do not send full papers. Once acceptance letters are sent full papers (approx 3,000 words) will be invited only from participants (under 40 years of age) competing for the Isaac Sequeira Memorial Award. The rest need to bring their complete papers along at the time of the conference.

In the memory of our patron, Prof Isaac Sequeira, MELUS-India / MELOW annually awards a prize for the best paper presented at its conference. The award will comprise a certificate and a cash prize of Rs. 5,000.
The competition is open to Indian citizens who are members of MELUS-India or MELOW. The competing participant / delegate should be less than forty years of age at the time of the conference. The abstract and complete paper should be submitted by the stipulated deadlines before it is presented at the conference.