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Novel and the Post-/Modern Way of Being

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Organizer: Sarbani Banerjee

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What Edmund Husserl calls as the crisis of the Modern European Man can be understood as Seinsvergessenheit or the forgetting of the mystery of Being. Hermann Broch studies the irrational dimension in human behaviour and the psychological anxiety that is a product of the post-World War I modern society. According to Broch, the Modern era bridges the reign of irrational faith and the reign of the irrational in a world without faith. The World War I results in a degradation of moral values and an unstable self in the face of vacuous ideals. With the ellipsis of the personal dimensions and a sense of incongruity where ideas of God or country do not hold, the fragmented modern world loses perspective of the causality. Milan Kundera states that the planet is passing through a phase where there are no masters and hence there is an unbearable lightness flouting any permanent sense of rootedness. The modern life is outwardly driven, resisting introspection and complicating the process of remembering. How does the modern novel as a genre enable a redemption of essential thinking? This seminar is interested in studying how the modern and postmodern forms of novel experiment and explore the question of human existence.

Modernity is symptomatic of disclaiming the knowledge of one’s Dasein and being in a condition of self‐estrangement, which results in an individual losing the perspective of the world as a whole or even a holistic view of the self. As historical, scientific and technological determinants cram the possibilities of individual becoming, reparations for Seinsvergessenheit are sought in the appeal to experience the immanence of life.

A world deserted by God, the novel’s non-essentialist value-systems stimulate a dynamic process of interillumination, producing a polyglossic milieu with new relationships between language and object. Lacking didacticism and a direct thesis, the novel suggests and prophesizes through playfulness, irony and hypothetical situations. E.M. Forster observes that the range of significations available in examining the different characters in a novel becomes a tool for discovering the author’s unexplored self.                                               

The seminar invites papers related but not limited to the following topics:

(a) the modern novel, lack of totality and identity crises

(b) the era of novelization

(c) parody, pastiche, comic subversion and survival

(d)  experimentations of novel with music/film/photograph/letters/essay

(e) novel and the Kafkaesque world

(f) novel and kitsch

(g) minimalism/maximalism as artistic techniques

(h) polyhistoricism and novel

(i) temporality, spatiality and materiality

(j) dreamscape and reality, prophecy and fantasy, magical realism

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