Monday, 28 March 2016

Methodology of Humanities

 2nd Chapter – Language and Culture

Short questions
1.       What is language?
Language is defined as a system that uses sounds or written symbols to communicate. This is a system of communication used by human beings only. The study of language is called linguistics. Language is based upon words and combination of words into sentences. The smallest unit of language is ‘sign’ which is a combination of ‘the concept and the sound image. The concept is called the signified and the sound image the signifier.
2.       Define culture?
Culture is defined as the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings, transmitted from one generation to another. Food, clothing, celebrations, religion, and language, shared values, customs, histories, knowledge, beliefs, arts, morals, law and habits are included in the definition of culture. Above all, culture is a symbolic meaning system.
3.       Who wrote ‘ A Course in General Linguistics’ ?
‘A Course in General Linguistics’ was written by the great Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure.

4.       How can we define meaning?
In his famous book titled ‘A Course of General Linguistics’ Ferdinand de Saussure developed the theory of the ‘sign’ which is the combination of the concept and the sound image. The concept is the signified and the sound image is the signifier. The relationship between the signifier and the signified is arbitrary. So meaning is defined as the relationship between words. In short language is a link between thought and sound.

5.       Distinguish between langue and parole
In his famous book title ‘A Course of General Linguistics’ Ferdinand de Saussure defines Langue and Parole. Langue is the actual language spoken by people, for example Malayalam, English Tamil etc.
Parole is the individual speech act.

6.       Define Genderlect
Genderlect is a product of social context. Deborah Tannen, a Harward Professor found out many differences in the masculine and feminine styles of discourse. There is a belief that women talk more than men. But in research it is found that men talk more than women in meetings, debates and on other occasions. Women’s speech style is always co-operative, whereas men are highly competitive. Similarly, women are always uncertain in their talk and they often use the words, ‘I think”, I’m sure”,  “you know”. Women always use more standard forms of English, whereas men use non standard forms frequently.

7.       Define Sociolect
People of different geographical areas who speak different languages will think and behave differently depending on the language they use.  Thus the sociological environment of a person determines the type of language he or she uses. These variations in a language are called a Sociolect.

8.       Distinguish between Pidgin and Creole
Pidgin is a term used to define the language that is born out of the regular contact of two linguistic groups that have no language in common. A Pidgin is a restricted language which arises for the purpose of communication between two social groups of one is in a more dominant position than the other. The less dominant group develops the Pidgin. Historically Pidgin is born in colonial situations. In India the people who are known as ‘Anglo-Indians speak Pidgin. There are Indian-English, Australian English, African English which are called Creoles.
In the course of several generations the Pidgin is developed into the mother-tongue of a group of speakers. Such languages are called Creoles.

9.       Define social constructionism
Social Construction of Reality is a term coined by Peter Berger and Thomas Luckman in their book titled “The Social Construction of Reality”. It says that our reality is shaped by our life experiences and the way we interact with people around us. Our upbringing and our value systems have deep impact on how we present ourselves how we understand others. In a society, social interaction leads to the creation of knowledge. This knowledge includes, beliefs, superstitious ideas, folklores, proverbs, religious ideas, customs, traditional values which have become part of the social system, a process that is called institutionalization. This institutionalization leads to habitualization. This set of beliefs that emerge through practice and institutionalization is called symbolic universes.  Thus our reality is shaped by our beliefs and back grounds. Society exists both outside as well as inside our minds. Thus, we the humans are always making and remaking our society. This is called social constructionism.

10.   What is nativism?
Nativism is an argument that writing in English encourages the continuity of colonial oppression, and as long as we continue to write in English, we cannot be free from the colonial oppression.
Many writers like Balachandra Nemde argues that we should write in our mother tongues. But novelists like Salman Rushdie says that post colonial writers Indigenized and nativised English language through the device of ‘chutnification’ and mixing of regional languages with English. Thus there are Indian English, Hinglish, Mangleesh etc.

Paragraph questions
11.   “The ‘real world’ is to a large extent unconsciously built upon the language habits of the group” – Comment.
Language is defined as a system that uses sounds or written symbols to communicate. Only human beings use this symbolic system of communication. It is a system of communication based upon words or ‘signs’ . A sign is the combination of a signifier (sound image) and a concept (the signified). Language is used as a vehicle of thought and ideas.  Thus language has become an integral part of human life. As a result he lives in many worlds. First he lives in an objective (real) world and in the world of social activity which is the second world and finally he lives in the world of ideas and thoughts. Thus we are very much at the mercy of the particular language which has become the medium of expression for their society. The ‘real world’ is to a large extent unconsciously built upon the language habits of the group. Every language shows quite different social reality. The worlds in which different societies who speak different languages live in very different worlds. So people of different geographical areas  who speak different languages think and behave differently. English man thinks and behaves differently from a Malayalee. These variations in a language is called a sociolect.

12.   Why is culture called a symbolic meaning system?
Culture is defined as the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings, transmitted from one generation to another. Food, clothing, celebrations, religion, and language, shared values, customs, histories, knowledge, beliefs, arts, morals, law and habits are included in the definition of culture. Above all, culture is a symbolic meaning system. It is semiotic system in which symbols communicate. Culture is inherited socially and share by all community.



13.   Discuss the relationship between language and culture.
There is a strong relationship between culture and language. Meaning of words is shared between speakers of the same language. But there are some symbols which are similar the world over. Example traffic rules.  When we live in a certain way, we use the language in tune with our life style and status. The language of a teacher, a priest and collector, magistrate contains upper vocabulary.  The language and dialect of the upper class is different from that of the lower class.  In Malayalam, M.T.Vasudevan Nair and Kamala Surayya used the ‘Valluvanadan dialect, which is considered as an upper class one. The Eskimos have seven different words to denote ‘snow’ as it is an integral part of their life.  The Swiss linguist  Ferdinand de Saussure developed the “theory of sign” which is a combination of two elements namely the concept and the sound image (the signified and the signifier). This shows the progress of our culture.

14.   What is discourse? How is it connected to culture?
 Discourse is an integral aspect of agency in language. Discourse is defined as both written and spoken communication.  Discourse means specific choice of words or vocabulary used in various fields of social life such as legal discourse, medical discourse, teaching discourse, religious discourse and so on. These discourses show their belief systems, values and socio-cultural experiences over a period of time. The discourse reflects the rights and duties of an individual in a particular social position. For example the discourse of a class room positions the teacher as one who will impart knowledge and the students as willing to accept the knowledge. Here the teacher wields power over the students. Thus discourse is intimately connected to culture.
15.   Analyse the concept of identities
Identity is something that we are constantly building and planning throughout our lives through our interaction with others. Identity is neither fixed nor intrinsic. It is a socially constructed dynamic product of the social, political contexts of an individual’s livid experiences.  This is an anti-essentialist concept of identity. Our social identities are defined by our membership in various groups along with the values, beliefs and attitudes connected with them. There are four types of identities. (1) Master identities. These identities are relatively stable, unchanging. Eg., gender, ethnicity, national and regional origins.
(2) Interactional identities. Eg. I am a teacher to my students. While travelling I am a passenger, In my apartment, I am some one’s neighbor. If I am sick, I am a patient to a doctor and so on.
(3) Personal identities are relatively stable. Eg. Honest, reasonable, arrogant, but personal identities are frequently contested.  (4) Relational identities change from moment to moment. It refers to the kind of relationship that a person enacts with his/her partner in a situation such as conversation, way side talk etc.
16. Is English a gendered language?
       17. Comment on the influence of gender on the use of language
Yes, English is certainly a gendered language where we can find genderlect very clearly. There is utter discrimination against women. English speakers and writers tend to use masculine nouns and pronouns in situations where the gender of their subject is not mentioned and when they refer to a group which contains members of both sexes, the word ‘mankind’ was used. Thus the preference goes to man. Similarly, chairman, police man, post man and certain professions such as doctor, sir, driver, engineer all give preference to man not woman. ‘man’ and words ending in ‘man’ are the most commonly used gendered nouns. When we say that all men are equal, we are certainly excluding woman. Another example of English as gendered language is the way the words ‘Mr’, ‘Miss’, and ‘Mrs.’ Are used. ‘Mr.’ can refer to any man married or unmarried. But women are different! Women are defined by their relationship to men. In modern time we use the title ‘Ms’ to woman whether married or not.  Another example to show English a gendered language is about professional names. People think doctors are men whereas nurses female!
        18. Discuss language with reference to the caste system in India
Language is an integral part of human culture. In India, language is mixed with caste and religion, because caste is inseparable aspect of the identity.  Identity politics is shaped by the shared experiences of members of certain social groups. Identity politics work for empowerment and recognition of social groups. The identity markers are language, culture, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, caste positions, religion, tribe and race.  In India, caste specific names fix the identity of a person. Inferior caste names are used in a low (derogatory) sense.  Mahatma Gandhi used a new term ‘Harijan’ (God’s children) to describe the untouchables, but they rejected it. They accepted the term ‘Dalit’ which reflects their painful life. Similarly the terms like Scheduled caste, scheduled tribes are neutral and do not have any derogatory sense in it.  The dialects spoken by different castes, their speech styles are also considered as ignorant or backward, whereas the speech style of the upper caste has a label of acceptance.

        19. What is linguistic imperialism?     
 The term ‘linguistic imperialism’ was first used by Robert Philipson. It refers to the imposition of the language spoken by the dominant class to others. It is not only language, but culture, religion, way of life and style are also imposed on the native people by the ruling, dominant class. It happened in India and many other countries where the British had set up colonies.  The great writer Cooke uses the term ‘Trojan Horse’ for linguistic imperialism, because just like the gift of the Trojan Horse by the Greeks to the people of Troy, English language was welcomed in India in the beginning as a gift of the British to eliminate ignorance, superstitious customs and give education to the people of India, finally turned out to be a curse and trap for India, because English education destroyed Indian languages, culture, traditional values and religion.  In British colonies where native languages came in contact with English language, produced new languages that can be either called Pidigins or Creoles, new dialects of English languages, such as Australian English, South African English, Indian English and so on.

      20. Was the Englishing of India a successful venture?
The Englishing of India was partly a successful venture because the Europeans tried to spread Christian religion through Missionaries for this purpose they set up schools and colleges to give English education to the natives. This followed social and religious reforms helped to eliminate many social evils such as ‘Sati, female foeticide, untouchability and other superstitious ideas. English education helped people of different states and communities to communicate and exchange ideas of nationalism. Above all English education fostered national unity and the awareness of freedom and equality. But Englishing of India has brought many evils too. It destroyed regional languages, traditional values and habits. It imposed western culture and habits and the native children followed the life style and religion of the ruling class which brought them nothing but illusion because the blacks cannot become whites.

Essay questions
      21. How does language create subjectivity?
Emile Benvenists, the great French linguist said that it is language which gives human being a sense of their subjectivity. Language alone gives man the concept of ‘ego. Language possesses a special property which creates subjectivity.  It is through discourse that a speaker or writer established his/her subjectivity. It is through ‘Parole that people establish a sense of their own subjectivity. The speaker or writer has got the personal pronoun ‘I’ and ‘You’.  They refer to a particular individual and at the same time other individuals can utilize the same term to refer to themselves. Thus language allows each speaker to designate himself or herself ‘I’. This is the core of the subjectivity that language provides every person.
       22. Language not only expresses ideas and concepts, but shapes thought. Comment with examples  to justify your answer.
 Language is defined as a system that uses sounds or written symbols to communicate. Only human beings use this symbolic system of communication. It is a system of communication based upon words or ‘signs’ . A sign is the combination of a signifier (sound image) and a concept (the signified). Language is used as a vehicle of thought and ideas.  Thus language has become an integral part of human life. As a result he lives in many worlds. First he lives in an objective (real) world and in the world of social activity which is the second world and finally he lives in the world of ideas and thoughts. Thus we are very much at the mercy of the particular language which has become the medium of expression for their society. The ‘real world’ is to a large extent unconsciously built upon the language habits of the group. Every language shows quite different social reality. The worlds in which different societies who speak different languages live in very different worlds. So people of different geographical areas who speak different languages think and behave differently. English man thinks and behaves differently from a Malayalee. These variations in a language are called a sociolect.

There is a strong relationship between culture and language. Meaning of words is shared between speakers of the same language. But there are some symbols which are similar the world over. Example traffic rules.  When we live in a certain way, we use the language in tune with our life style and status. The language of a teacher, a priest and collector, magistrate contains upper vocabulary.  The language and dialect of the upper class is different from that of the lower class.  In Malayalam, M.T.Vasudevan Nair and Kamala Surayya used the ‘Valluvanadan dialect, which is considered as an upper class one. The Eskimos have seven different words to denote ‘snow’ as it is an integral part of their life.  The Swiss linguist  Ferdinand de Saussure developed the “theory of sign” which is a combination of two elements namely the concept and the sound image (the signified and the signifier). This shows the progress of our culture.
           23. Discuss the cultural impact of Lord Macaulay’s Minutes
English arrived in India as the language of Imperial power. It replaced Sanskrit and Persian as the language of administration. Warren Hastings, T.B. Macaulay, William Jones and others studied Indian languages of Sanskrit and Persian, and translated texts into English. In the second stage of introducing English in India, Missionaries like William Carey learned local languages and translated the Bible into these languages.
 In the third stage, English was made the medium of instruction in schools and colleges. The Minutes of 1835 prepared by Lord Macaulay was passed in the British parliament and English became the language of education, law and commerce.  With the introduction of English education, western ideas, the conversion of natives to Christian religion and western culture and habits began to spread in India. This helped to eliminate many social evils. This followed social and religious reforms helped to eliminate many social evils such as ‘Sati, female foeticide, untouchability and other superstitious ideas. English education helped people of different states and communities to communicate and exchange ideas of nationalism.
 Above all English education fostered national unity and the awareness of freedom and equality. But Englishing of India has brought many evils too. It destroyed regional languages, traditional values and habits. It imposed western culture and habits and the native children followed the life style and religion of the ruling class which brought them nothing but illusion because the blacks cannot become whites. The first Indian novels in the 19th century were inspired by English novels. Many English novels were translated  into Indian languages. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s “Anandamath’ was translated in English and other European languages. This novel contained our national song ‘Vande Mataram’ that inspired the nationalists in India. R.K. Narayan, Raja Rao wrote novels in English expressed nationalist sentiments.  The forward to “Kanthapura” reflect this national spirit.


            24.  Discuss the various levels of reality with proper theoretical analysis.
 Social Construction of Reality is a term coined by Peter Berger and Thomas Luckman in their book titled “The Social Construction of Reality”. It says that our reality is shaped by our life experiences and the way we interact with people around us. There are various levels of reality. Our upbringing and our value systems have deep impact on how we present ourselves how we understand others. In a society, social interaction leads to the creation of knowledge. This knowledge includes, beliefs, superstitious ideas, folklores, proverbs, religious ideas, customs, mythology, traditional values which have become part of the social system, a process that is called institutionalization. This institutionalization leads to habitualization. This set of beliefs that emerge through practice and institutionalization is called symbolic universes.  Thus our reality is shaped by our beliefs and back grounds. Society exists both outside as well as inside our minds. Thus, we the humans are always making and remaking our society. This is called social constructionism.

           25. Discuss historiography focusing on language
History is revealed through language. Historiography is the history of history. It means the subject of historiography is the history of history. It is the history of the history of any particular event that has been described. The underlying sentiment of historiography is skepticism (doubt).  This is due to the fact that historians have their own agendas and wants to prove a particular event in the past as favourable for him and therefore select a particular event in the past and wish to prove certain preconceived notions or points. History is therefore never truly objective (honest) or impartial. For example the concept of nationalism is defined as loyalty and devotion to a nation state. So the historian uses chosen phrases and words to prove the loyalty to a particular nation or culture and considers it superior to others. The feeling of nationalism is aroused by creating a sense of shared cultural heritage, the language spoken in the country and the use of some symbols. Thus history is recreated to serve the interest of nationalism. History is written to glorify the nation state, heroes are created and sometimes unreasonable xenophobia (contempt of foreigners) is created in the minds of the people.
Kjt/29-03-2016






I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I know Why the Caged Bird Sings                                                  Maya Angelou
Dr.Maya Angelou, one of the greatest voices in contemporary literature, is an African-American poet, memoirist, educator, historian, best- selling author, actress, dramatist, civil rights activist, film maker, director and teacher. She won international recognition with the publication of ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’. This poem expresses the African American’s intense longing for freedom. Angelou uses the metaphor for a bird struggling to escape its cage as a central image throughout her autobiographical fiction. But in this poem the caged bird sings of freedom.  As a black woman she has encountered racial discrimination, segregation and domination. She is an optimist and the companion of Martin Luther King fighting for the Civil Rights movement in the USA and achieved what they dreamed.
Maya Angelou says that a free bird leaps on the back of the wind floats in the blue sky enjoying the pleasures of life. The free bird stands for the white people leading luxurious life and dreaming of new business fields and colonies in order to exploit the poor countries in the world to reap maxim profit. But a bird walks steady in its narrow cage. The caged bird’s wings are clipped and its feet are chained up. So the bird opens his throat to sing of freedom. The caged bird stands for the Black people who live in misery, poverty and sorrow, waiting centuries for their God given birth rights such as equality, citizenship rights and freedom.
The caged bird sings with painful sound of the things unknown such as equality, liberty and fraternity. The bird’s song is heard far way beyond the distant hills and valleys. The free bird enjoys the freedom and flies in the depth of the infinite blue sky thinking of new opportunities and planning to set up new colonies in order to reap more profits and pleasures of life.
But the caged bird stands of the grave of dreams.  The Black had been working hard as slaves for the white people for centuries. They built up modern cities in various parts of America, made railways, bridges, towers and skyscrapers, but still lives in the slums and ghettos. Everywhere they are rejected and unwanted because they see the boards ‘For whites only’ in the restaurants, buses and buildings. They have no opportunity for education or employment and live in poverty and sorrow. So the caged bird sings of things unknown to him and he sings of equality, liberty and fraternity.            Kjt/16-02-2016
                               


The Repentant Sinner (short story) by Leo Tolstoy


‘The Repentant Sinner is a beautiful, thought-provoking short story written by Leo Tolstoy, who was a great Russian novelist and philosopher, thinker and moralist. This story is based on the 42, 43 lines of 23rd Chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel in the Bible.
 When Jesus Christ was nailed on the cross between two thieves on the Golgotha mount, one of the thieves repented and, recognizing Jesus as the son of God, prayed to Him that he might also be remembered when Christ reached Heavenly Kingdom.  At once Christ replied that he would be with Jesus in Paradise that day itself. This golden offer of love amazes every reader of the Bible. This part of the Bible teaches everyone of the infinite love of God even to the repented sinners of the world at the last minute.
 The Bible proclaims ‘God is love’ which is a miraculous experience for every sinner because God knows the weakness of human beings.  Once there was a man who lived for seventy years in sin and fell ill but even then he did not repent. But when he was dying, he wept and repented and prayed to God to forgive him as He had forgiven the thief upon the cross.
The soul of the sinner believing in the mercy of God went to the gates of heaven and knocked. The voice of St. Peter told him that sinners were not allowed in Heaven. Then the soul of the repented sinner told St. Peter that Peter had the great fortune to hear the Bible teachings from the holy lips of Jesus Christ and Christ loved Peter and raised him to the status of the leader of the twelve disciples and Peter witnessed the miracles of Jesus.
 Yet, Peter betrayed Jesus on many a number of occasion.  When Jesus and his disciples were praying to God at the Getsamene garden, Christ saw Peter sleeping in spite of repeated requests of Christ to pray with him. Thus Apostle Peter disobeyed his master three times. Still Christ forgave Peter for his human weakness. Again when Jesus was arrested and taken to the High Priest for trial, Peter denied publicly three times that he did not know Jesus. When Christ was nailed to the cross, Peter and other disciples ran away in fear and took shelter in a safety place and thus Peter abandoned his loving master for his own safety.
 In spite of a life-long companionship and teaching from Christ, Peter the Apostle could not reform himself. Then it is natural the repented sinner could not do any good deed while he was on the earth. But these arguments and requests of the repented sinner did not make any impression upon the saint and the gate of heaven was not opened to him and the voice of Peter was silent.
 But the spirit of the repented sinner continued to knock on the gate and this time the voice of King David to get out because sinners were not allowed in Heaven. The spirit of the repented sinner said that the King of Israel committed many a number of sins.
 David was loved by God and made the dwarfish, illiterate shepherd was raised to the highest rank in Israel by crowning him as the country’s king. God blessed him in innumerable ways and was given wealth, beautiful wives and children.  Yet he coveted Uriave’s beautiful young wife Bethsheba. Uriave was David’s trusted soldier and was willing to die for his beloved King David. But ungrateful David killed the brave soldier in a treacherous manner and possessed his wife. While she was bathing, the King saw her and called her to his palace and slept with her and she became pregnant. So David wanted to possess her by any means. He sent Uriave to the battle and arrangements were made in secret to kill him in the battle. Then David made Bethsheba his wife.
 Yet Heavenly Father forgave David’s crimes, when he repented and allowed him a place in Heaven. When the repented sinner’s spirit explained how God’s mercy helped David and requested him to allow the spirit enter the Heavenly kingdom, the voice of David was silent.
 But the repented sinner was not disappointed and began to knock on the door a third time. This time it was the voice of John the Divine and the sinner was very glad. The sinner knew well that John the Divine was the most beloved disciple of Jesus Christ.  Among the four Gospels written by St. Matthew, St. Luke, St. Mark and St. John, only John’s Gospel begins with the sentence “In the beginning there was Word, Word was with God and Word was God. Similarly this is the only gospel where the reader can find the wonderful sentence “God is love”. Therefore the repented sinner requested St. John to let him enter the kingdom of Heaven, because John alone enjoyed the depth of God’s love.  At once the gate of Heaven was opened and the repented spirit entered.

1.What was the strange request of one the thieves on the cross to Jesus Christ?

2.What is the similarity of the request of the repented sinner and the request of the thief on the cross?

3.What is the amazing quality of Jesus response to one of the thieve’s request on the cross?

4.How many voices responded to the request of the repented sinner when he knocked on the gate of Heaven?

5.How Peter the Apostle disobeyed Jesus while praying at the Gethsameni garden.?

6.How Peter betrayed Jesus at the courtyard of the palace of the Chief Priest?

7.How Jesus was betrayed by Peter the Apostle when Jesus was nailed to the cross?

8.What are the crimes of David the King, according to the repented sinner?

9.What was the response of David to the request of the repented sinner?

10.Who is Bathsheba?

11.Who is the second son of Bathsheba?

12.What was the response of John the Divine to  the request of the repented sinner?

13.How many Gospels are there in the Bible and explain the uniqueness of St. John’s Gospel?
Kjt/22-02-2016


INTRODUCTION TO WORLD DRAMA


Drama is a literary composition meant to be staged. The term drama is derived from the Greek word ‘dran’ which means ‘to act’. Drama originated in ancient Greece. Ancient Greek drama took its origin from religious rituals performed during the worship of Dionysus, the God of wine and fertility.  The villagers celebrated the festivals with a lot of singing and dancing. Two types of plays originated from such celebration. They are tragedy and comedy.

 Tragedy represented the serious side of human life when comedy takes the lighter side of life. In England drama originated from the religious performances of the Middle Ages. Priests and monks enacted the roles of characters and plays were usually performed inside the church. In due course, the earlier Latin dialogues were replaced by English and from the church play performances moved to the churchyard and to the streets.

The plays produced by Trade Guilds on religious themes became popular as Mystery plays and Miracle plays. Mysteries have themes from the Bible and the Miracle plays dealt with the lives of saints. Then appeared Morality plays in which the characters represented abstract qualities such as virtue, vice, prudence, ignorance.
 Some times in the midst of the serious plays, introduced small comic scripts of common familiar matters. This kind of play within a play was called an interlude. John Heywood wrote a play “The Four P’s” was a well-known interlude.  The word ‘theatre is derived from the Greek word ‘theatrons’,which means a place for viewing. It refers to the space used for a dramatic performance;, theatre is a form of self-expression and self-realization. Theatre is a medium to entertain people.  Theatre can be a house or an open space.

 Thespis was the first actor playwright in ancient Greece. Early Greek performances were stage in huge amphitheaters situated in open areas.  The theatre was rich in music, rituals and dance. Since there were no barriers between the actors and the audience, the actor-audience participation was very high. The tragic actors wore marks, padded costumes and thick, high heeled shoes. The comic actors wore light weight shoes. The masks prevented the actors from changing expressions and hence the actor’s facial expression remained unchanged throughout performance.

The Chorus of the ancient Greek tragedies often functions as the author’s mouth piece. It is usually a group of people who sing songs and perform dances during the play, guides the actions, and continually interrupting the dialogue and the progress of the action with their odes or interludes. The genesis of Greek tragedy is to be found in the dithyramb, or choral hymn, which as chanted by the village worshippers around the altar of Dionysus and from this ritual developed the Chorus which is an essential part of Greek tragedy.

 The great Greek dramatist Sophocles perfected Chorus.  In the play Oedipus Rex, the Chorus performs many functions. Here the Chorus represents the Theban elders who consult the King on important issues, warn him of the values of virtues and even makes important judgments on king and others and sings and dances.  The main function of the Chorus was to narrate the events that took place off the stage and to make commends on the morality of the actions represented on the stage.  But in modern plays, the place of the Chorus is taken by one of the characters in the play.

In Greek Drama, the hero is called the protagonist and the rival is known as the antagonist. The deuteragonist is the character that supported the hero throughout the narrative.  A foil is a character who exhibits opposite traits or some traits in a greater or lesser degree.  A confident is someone in whom the central character confides.
  Aristotle regarded tragedy as the highest form of poetry. He identified six elements of tragedy. They are plot, character, thought, diction, music and spectacle. He divides plot into simple and complex plots.  In complex plots there are peripeteia and anagnorisis. In a simple plot, these two puzzling situations are absent.  In Aristotle’s eyes, Oedipus Rex is the best Greek tragedy which, arouse pity and fear, effecting the catharsis of such emotions.  The tragic hero- Oedipus evokes the emotions of pity and fear in the minds of the audience, thereby effecting catharsis which is the benefit of a tragedy on the audience. Elizabethan drama reached its zenith during the period of William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe and others. Shakespeare’s plays are “Othello, King Lear, Macbeth and Hamlet are the best tragedies.
 The nineteenth century Victorian age saw a new kind of drama known as problem plays. The plays of Henrik Ibsen, George Bernard Shaw and John Galsworthy enriched English drama. Mr.Warren’s Profession and The Arms and Man dealt with social problems. ‘Dolls House written by Henrik Ibsen opened the door to feminism. John Galsworthy’s ‘The Silver Box’ ‘Strife’ and ‘Justice’ dealt with social problems.
 Then came ‘the poetic drama’ of Oscar Wild, W.B.Yeats , Lady Gregory appeared. T.S.Eliot’s famous play ‘Murder in the Cathedral’ introduces the conventions of Greek drama, and combines myth, ritual and poetry to create a heightened theatrical effect. It was followed by the rise of working class drama. John Osborne’s  play ‘Look Back in Anger’ is the best example. Post modern dramas appeared in the 20th century.  Samuel Becket’s ‘Waiting for Godot’, Harold Pinter’s “The Birthday Party’, Bertolt Brecht’s ‘Mother Courage and Her Children’ are famous. Most of them are called absurd or black comedies.
Sanskrit drama. The earliest Sanskrit theatre is seen in Bharat Muni’s A Treatise on Theatre (Natyasastra). The Treatise is the most complete work of dramaturgy in the ancient India. It addresses acting, dance, music, dramatic construction, architecture, costuming, make up, props, the organization of companies, the audience and competition and offers a mythological account of the origin of theatre.

The rules of the Sanskrit drama have been laid down by Bharath Muni, in his Natyasastra. He implies that rasa is aroused as a result of the combination of the three elements ie, the Vibhavas, the Aubhavas and the yabhicari bhavas. However Bhasa the great Indian dramatist did not follow the rules of Bharatha Muni. enBhasa and Kalidasa were the most famous playwrights of ancient India. Bhasa’s ‘Karnabhara’, Kalidasa’s Sakunthalam, Vikrama and Urvashi, Malavika and Agnimitra are famous plays of this period. Rabindranath Tagore, is a great modern playwright and poet of India and his plays are written in Bengali. They include ‘Chitrangada, ‘The King of the dark chamber,’ ‘Post Office’ famous dramas. Another noted playwright of modern India is Girish Karnad who has written a number of plays that use history and mythology. His most famous play is ‘Nagamandala’ Sanskrit plays are classified into ten main types which are called “Dasaroopikani”. They are Natakam, Prakaranam, Bhana, Prakarna, Tima, Vyayoga, Samavakra, vithi, Ihamugh and Anga. Nataka and Prakrana are the most developed form of plays with a minimum of five acts.                                                                                                                                                                    Kjt/29-02-2016

Divine Comedy - Paradiso: Canto xxi - DANTE ALIGHIERI

Divine Comedy  - Dante Alighieri                                                                                            Paradiso: Canto XXI
In this part of the poem, Dante ascends with Beatrice to the seventh Heaven, which is the plat Saturn. Here a golden ladder is place and the height of the ladder is infinite and the top of the ladder is not visible to Dante who is mortal.  The narrator of the epic poem is Dante himself. Beatrice, the ideal beautiful woman guides the narrator through Heaven.
 Dante turns to the face of Beatrice, but she is not smiling. She tells Dante that if she smiles, Dante will be reduced to mere ashes. She tells Dante of the tragedy of a woman named Semele who is the mother of Dionycious, the Greek God of fertility and wine by Jove had been turned to ashes when smiled. This is why the spirit of Beatrice did not smile at Dante. Her smile has the intensity of God’s love which will destroy mortal beings. The reason was that they have climbed so high on the heavenly ladder and they have reached the point where Dante’s senses cannot bear the great power of God’s love reflected through spirit of Beatrice.
The beauty of Beatrice is more glorified and powerful when they reached the top step of the divine ladder and God’s power and glory is reflected on the face of Beatrice, will burn the mortal senses of Dante when he looks at her. She says that Dante will be become like a leaf of tree which is burned to ashes when lightning and thunder strike it. Beatrice now announces that they have reached the Seventh Heaven. It is just below the Constellation of Leo which is always burning and light flashes everywhere downwards with the power and glory of God.  Beatrice again warns Dante to listen and concentrate his mind and eyes and look where he usually look and he sees the reflected image of what comes next. So Dante looks at the bright eyes of Beatrice. There the narrator sees the wonderful landscape of Saturn reflected. Dante says that he is really grateful to his beautiful guide Beatrice and he blindly obeys every word of his ideal companion.  When he looks at her, his joy is unlimited and she is also very happy on seeing the pleasure of the narrator. The narrator then saw a golden ladder slowly coming up and the sunlight is reflected on it. The ladder is going up so high that the narrator cannot see its top because he is mortal. When he looks down the steps, it is so bright that all the lights in the heaven seem to be appeared there. It is an amazing sight for Dante.
Thousands of souls are climbing up and down the steps of the golden  ladder every minute just like the flocks of rooks (jackdaws) fly away in the bright morning to various parts of the sky in order to warm their cold feathers in the bright sunlight. Some of them fly off without return, some others come back to where they started from and some others are flying round here and there.  A multitude of shining spirits  are moving on the steps of the golden ladder and one spirit comes so near Dante and Dante wants to talk to the spirit and must get permission from Beatrice. At this unspoken thought, Beatrice promptly gives the signal and Dante speaks to the soul why he comes so near and why there is perfect silence in this place, whereas, every other sphere is full of God’s glorious music. The soul answers Dante for the 2nd question first and says that it is quite silent here because if they were to sing, the power of the song would break the ear-drums of Dante who is a mortal. In other words, Dante’s mortal hearing could not bear the glory and power of the divine song at this level of heaven. Now the soul answers the first question of Dante.
The soul says that he has descended the golden ladder with the emergency purpose of meeting Dante. He adds that the soul is fully governed by God’s love and will, and therefore the soul is asked to move down the ladder to meet Dante. Before the soul can even say the last words, the spirit begins spinning at a lightning speed and its spinning only makes the soul grow brighter and more beautiful and it says that its sight is very good and this is why God blesses him with so much grace. No one can know the mine of God, the soul warns Dante and advises Dante to report this important matter to the people when he returns home to the earth.
The warning of the spirit trembles Dante with fear and he is silent. The spirit is willing to reveal his identity. The brightly burning soul tells Dante once long ago he was a monk in a monastery at Catria in Italy. It was called Santa Croce di Forte Avellan. He came to the monastery as a sinner and became a saint soon. He worshipped God in meditation and prayer and lived on a simple vegetable diet cooked in olive juice. At that time the monastery supplied truly virtuous souls, but now the monastery is corrupted and barren. When he entered the monastery, he was called ‘Peter the Sinner’. But now he is known as St. Peter Damian. Dante nods in agreement. St. Peter Damian continues his story. From the monastery he was dragged out to become a Cardinal. He preferred his monastery life to the Papal dignity of glory and power. St. Peter Damian recalls that one upon a time Popes were good and they led very simple and holy life, strictly following the teachings of the Bible and St. Paul wore the hat of the Cardinal and he walked “barefoot” and was lean, simple and holy.
But now, shaking his head, Peter Damian says that the Pops are plump and corrupted and that they need a lot of servants and helpers to do everything because they love luxurious life. Peter’s words have attracted other souls who are now gathered round a spectacle of light. When Peter Damian stops talking, the spirits cry out in agreement and Dante drops like an anchor because their combined voices have the power of thunderbolt in the blue sky and he was trembled with fear, as his senses are paralyzed with shock.                                                                                                                                      Kjt/22-02-2016







I Love You - poem written by Alexander Pushkin

A brief summary of “I Love You” by Alexander Pushkin

The poem ‘I Love You’ by Alexander Pushkin was originally written in the Russian language. Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin was a Great Russian poet born in Moscow. He was incredibly intelligent and started writing poems at childhood days. Pushkin used his poems to express his frank opinion about the Russian politics of his period and he had to face opposition and enmity from many political leaders. At the age of 27 Pushkin married Natalya Nikolayevna Goncharova  who was only 16 in the year 1826 and they had two kids. Pushkin got into great debt due to his wife’s luxurious life and Pushkin was shot to death by his brother-in-law whom he suspected of having an affair with his wife, when he confronted him about it.

The poem ’I love you’ is addressed to his lady love. This unknown lady is a silent listener throughout the poem.  There are hundreds of ‘love poems’ written by many eminent poets in the world. Matthew Arnold, P.B. Shelley, Shakespeare, John Keats, Pablo Neruda and others. But the love poem of Alexander Pushkin surpasses these love poems in its depth and beauty of love felt by a ‘hopelessly mute lover’.  It is as mysteriously graceful as the masterpiece, Mona Liza of Leonardo da Vinci. Newer and yet newer meanings come out just as the tender petals of a lotus blossom out when we re-read every line of the short poem.

The narrator of the poem says that he is ‘a mute offender’. But he is quite fascinated by the beauty and personality of the girl. He confesses his deepest and warmest feelings towards this girl. The mood of the poem is neither sad nor happy one. It is a one way traffic love.  The girl, it seems, has no feelings towards him. The narrator knows well that she can never love him. Yet he loves her. He says that he loved her and the embers of his past love are still burning bright in his heart. This feeling still gives him not only comfort but also elixir of life. In spite of her rejection of his love, he enjoys the true love that emerges from the dreams about her.  Every love of human being always brings sorrow and pain in the end. But the narrator feels neither boredom nor pain. On the other hand his love for her brings him spiritual joy and beauty.

The author holds a very respectful attitude for his love that seems to have lost. From line ”let my love no longer trouble you” the feelings of the poet seem quite sincere in the manner in which they are expressed. He truly wishes his lady love happiness, and while expressing it, his heart suffers great mental pain by the loss of his love. But doesn’t this pain give him aesthetic pleasure, because self sacrifice brings back to its owner certain joy?  We find altruism in this love.

The narrator is not a selfish love because he does not want to possess her against her will.  He wants to be “a silent and hopeless lover” of his ladylove for ever so that he can enjoy his love for her and that love never gets old and tired. Instead such love is still fresh and green forever and ever. Thus the lover makes it a divine love.

 He thinks of her happiness and therefore willing to surrender his love and happiness for the sake of her happiness and joy. His prayer is that God grants another man to love her who can love her with such a deep and sincere love just as he had given her.  The narrator knows well that no other man in this world can give her such “a love as deep as this, as true, as tender.” Therefore it is certain that she is always in the sanctum sanctorum of his heart forever and ever!!.

Kjt/09-02-2016

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Methodology of Literature ( Calicut University Syllabus)

Methodology of Literature 2015    

The Queer Theory or Lesbian/Gay Criticism
The Queer Theory is a cultural theory developed in the 1990s. which is related to gay(homosexual) sexuality and gay readership. Lesbian/Gay criticism is meant to serve the interests of sex and sexuality of a marginalized community. It has social and political considerations also. Queer Theory helps the members of the community, who are involved in homosexual (gay/lesbian) sexuality and remove their fear and prejudices and bring them back to the mainstream of society.  There are two branches of lesbian theory.  They are ‘Lesbian Feminism and the ‘Queer Theory. Lesbian Feminism is originated from Feminism in 1980s. Feminism cannot put up with Lesbian feminism because of the lesbian difference, such as cultural, racial and sexual differences. The Queer Theory supports experimental methods of sexuality such as sadism, masochism, and sadomasochism. They are different from heterosexuality and homosexuality. The idea is heterosexuality is natural and homosexuality is rejected as ‘the Other’. Lesbian/gay criticism supports Virginia Woolf, Victoria Sackvelle West, Dorothy Richardson and other writers who write about lesbian/gay instances in mainstream literature. It brings to light homosexual instances of mainstream literature, as in war poetry and the portrayal of soldiers bathing in public and the sight of naked dead bodies are often homo-erotic.

Subaltern
The term ‘subaltern’ means ‘from below’. Subaltern studies means ‘history from below- the downtrodden, the tribals in the Indian context. These are the post colonial studies made by Homi Bhabha and Edward Said. In his key essay titled ‘Signs taken for Wonders’ Homi Bhabha speaks about the ‘English Book’, which is the Bible. The Bible functioned as a sign of colonial power. The school of Subaltern studies was founded by Ranajit Guha, a Marxist intellectual from Bengal who was influenced by the Chinese Cultural Revolution. These post-colonial writers and historians have produced provocative research on the history of colonial India which include low caste and tribal peasant insurgency, middle class (bourseosie leadership and their ideologies of Indian nationalism, prison life, politics of liquor and interpretations of ‘bondage’.

Dalit Literature in India – A Critical Study.
The word ‘Dalit’ means ‘oppressed’ or ‘broken’. ‘Dalit’ is a Marathi word means ‘depressed classes’. In the 1970s ‘Dalit Panthers expanded to Scheduled tribes, poor peasants, women and all the  economically, politically and religiously oppressed and exploited people. Dalit is not a caste but a symbol of change and revolution.

The basic aim of Dalit literature is the liberation of Dalits. Dalit’s struggle against casteist tradition started in the 11th century when in Kannada state, Chennai, a cobbler and a Vachana poet challenged the upper classes for eating the Sacred cow. The Dalit youths started a movement called Little Magazine and drew inspiration from the blacks in North America. Poems, short stories and autobiographies were written in the Dalit Literature and was dignified. The important writers were Maheswata Devi, Namdeo Deshal, Daya Pwar and others. Dalit literature questioned the mainstream literary theories and the
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upper caste ideologies. Dalit literature is experience based. This “anubhava” is more convincing and better than the “anumana” of the upper caste mainstream literature. The contribution of Dalit literature was remarkable. Dalit writers often used the terms like Shame, anger, sorrow and hope in their literature. Dalit literature grew in Maharashtra  owing to the legacy of Mahatma Phule and B. Ambedkar.  It raised the literacy level of the Dalit and caused great change in Indian society. It encouraged self confidence and pride in Dalit people and helped them to write their biographies, explaining their suffering and prepared them to demand their rights and helped their mobilization. It stirred up thinking in Dalit intellectural. In Tamil Nadu the literary movement developed in the 1990s.

Post Colonial Criticism
Post Colonial criticism developed in the 1990s. The great writers of this criticism are Edward Said, Homi Bhabha, Gayatri Spivak and Bill Ashcroft. Post colonial theory is a method of interpreting, reading and critically evaluating the cultural practices of colonialism. Post colonial critics question the authority of Western literature because it is often silent about colonialism and imperialism. The Western literature supports only White, Eurocentric ideas. There are two stages of Post colonial criticism. In the first stage, post colonialism criticizes the Western portrayal of colonial countries for its prejudices and limitations. In the second stage, the post colonial writers speak of themselves and their society.
Much before the pot colonial criticism of Edward Said and Homibhabha appeared, the ideas of resistance, cultural nationalism and nativism arose in the context of anti-colonial struggle in Asia, Africa and South America. But the anti-colonial struggle in India was much different from other colonized nations in Asia, Africa, South America and other places.Gandhi’s method of struggle was “Satyagraha” which was based on the principle of non-violence. Gandhi knew that the spirit of India lies in the villages and therefore he took an anti-industrial stand. Gandhiji wanted to save the interests of the peasant class and agricultural workers. France Fanon calls this form of struggle as “cultural nationalism”. Gandhiji’s major contribution to post-colonial struggle is the moral superiority of both the individual and the culture against the colonial ruler – the British government. Gandhiji believed in the assimilation of all cultures and asserted Indian secularism.
Fratz Omar Fanon an Afro-Caribbean psychiatrist, philosopher, revolutionary and writer whose books are influential in the fields of Post colonial studies, critical theory and Marxism. His works titled “The Wretched of the Earth” and “Black Skins, White Masks” deeply influenced the ani-colonial struggle. Fanon was deeply interested in the psychological effects of colonialism both on the colonizer and the colonized. He argued that the colonization destroyed the soul of the depressed and the suffering natives because the white people treated these natives as mere animalized things. So the natives think of themselves as very dirty, pagan and primitive and evil human beings and began to hate their own culture and religion. This is what happened even in India. Thus the natives are forced to accept western religion, values, culture and language and puts on white masks. He cannot become fully ‘white’ and at the same time he cannot expel the whites from his country.

                                                                     
Cultural Materialism
Cultural materialism is politicized form of historiography. It treats all literary texts part of historical material. The term cultural materialism was given importance by Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield. They define cultural materialism as a critical method. Cultural materialism takes its principles from Structuralism, Post Structuralism, Marxist and Feminist ideas and other modern methods of critical study.
The difference between Marxist criticism and Cultural materialism is that cultural materialism considers the present as well as the past in the study of literary text, but Marxism considers only the past. Cultural materialism stands for political optimism whereas New Historicism represents political pessimism. Cultural materialism is the British while New Historicism is American.

New Historicism
New Historicism is American counterpart of Cultural materialism which is British. New Historicism was coined by Steven Greenblatt. New Historicism deals with the historical, social, economic contexts of a literary text. New historicism differs from old historicism. Old historicism treated the literary text as the object of value and the historical background was only of a subsidiary interest. There was no equality between the literary text and the historical background. On the other hand New historicism gives equal importance to both the literary text and the historical background. New historicism accepts Derrida’s view that there is nothing outside the text. New Historicism stands for political pessimism and says that history is not background to texts; but it is the foreground.
Marxist criticism
Marxism is a school of thought that has political, economic, social, literary and other bearings. It stands for a classless society and common ownership of property. It is based on materialist philosophy.
The Marxist view of society has two bases, an economic base and a cultural superstructure. The first is the means of production, distribution and exchange. The second is the world of philosophy, art, religion, law and others. But the second base is formed and determined through the first base. Marx and Engels did not develop any theory of literature. Marxist criticism is that a writer’s class is reflected in his work. It is not inspiration, or genius, that creates great art, but one’s social context. This is mirrored from the content and style of one’s work.

Post modernism    Postmodernism is a theory and practice, which has become popular in literature and the arts since 1980s.  Postmodernism accepts most of the features of modernism such as fragmented forms of writing, random use of non-literary things and use of parody and so on. Postmodernism developed after the Second World War. There are certain differences between modernism and post modernism. The modernist is sad and desperate at the state of affairs and has a tone of lament and pessimism. On the other hand, the post modernist is glad about it, as the fragmented state of things means joy and liberation. Post modernism does not differentiate between ‘high class’ and ‘low class’art. But modernists did this difference.

                                                                        
The present sense of postmodernism came to be received from Jean-Francois Lyotard’s “The postmodern condition: A report on Knowledge’ and also Lyotard’s essay “Answering the Question: What is Post modernism”. Lyotard defines postmodernism as a refusal to believe metanarratives or Grand narratives (or supernarratives). He says that mini narratives or small stories explain post modernism.
Samuel Becket’s “Waiting For Godot” is a typical example for a postmodernist work.

Ecocriticism
Ecocriticism is the study of literature and environment from an interdisciplinary point of view where all sciences come together to analyze the environment and make possible solution for the correction of the environmental situation.
Ecocritics consider other disciplines, such as history, philosophy, ethics and psychology can be contributors to ecocriticism.
Joseph Meeker’s “The Comody of Survival” published in 1974 says that environmental crisis is caused mainly by a cultural tradition in the West. They separated human culture from nature. He says “making love not war” is superior ecological value. We must love and protect our nature because human being is an integral part of Nature. If Nature is destroyed, human race is also be perished.
Camilo Gomides has offered an operational definition of ecocriticism. He defines ecocriticism as the field of enquiry that  analyzes and promotes works of art which raise moral questions about human interactions with Nature, while also motivating audiences to live within a limit that will be binding over generations.

Ecofeminism
Ecofeminism says that the values and beliefs of patriarchal society have resulted in the exploitation of women and nature. The patriarchal society ignores women’s work, knowledge and the immediate location in nature, where the women’s relationship with the environment is more intimate than that of a man’s relationship with Nature.
The spiritualist part of ecofeminism turned to native American religions, goddess worship in Hinduism and other native cultures.
The materialist ecofeminists think that the spiritualist group are spoiling the ecofeminist dealing with social conditions and political decisions that encourage environment exploitation, encourage lavish consumerism, and fail to check military spending.

Vandana Shiva’s book titled “Staying Alive” has become a text for ecologists and ecofeminists. Vandana Shiva the great ecofeminist says that India has always encouraged an environment friendly culture.

Kjt/26-10-2015