Trending News… +++++ The Annual Chennai Book Fair is on! at St. George's School Grounds, Poonamallee High Road, Chennai, from 06 January to 19 January 2017 +++++ The Annual TG Narayanan Endowment Lecture @ Department of English, MCC - Distinguished Speaker of the Day - Dr. Premila Paul, Director, SCILET talks on 'Memory Narratives,' 31 January 2017 +++++ You are invited to contribute research papers at the conference on Transgender Literature at Gandhigram Rural Institute – Deemed University, Dindigul, Tamil Nadu on 30, 31 January 2017. For more details, click on their website HERE +++++

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Two Towering Testaments to Tomes!

The Madras Literary Society Library

Can you imagine a library of yore that had a committed and devoted readership which includes legends like Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Annie Besant, T T Krishnamachari and C P Ramaswami Iyer etc as its members?

Yes, we are talking about the Madras Literary Society Library.

Founded in 1812, the MLS Library is supposed to be the oldest lending library in the whole of South India. The oldest book is Aristotle's Opera Omnia in Greek and Latin published in 1619. At the same time, the library also has original documents and surveys of the Ganges Canal plain (1854) and Buckingham Canal project (1898). Old pictures of Pudukottai, Trichy, Thanjavur and Madurai, photographed by Captain Tripe, are preserved in a glass case mounted on a teakwood table at the entrance.

Visit this legendary library of yore – not only for its old-world charm but also for its rarest of rare books.

Working Hours

The Madras Literary Society Library serves the public daily from 10.00 am. to 05.00 pm. on weekdays. The library is closed on Sundays, three National holidays and selected festival holidays a year.
Madras Literary Society Library
DPI Complex
College Road, Nungambakkam, 
Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600006
Phone: 044 2827 9666

The Adyar Library and Research Centre (ALRC)

Yet another library of yore that has The Chinese Tripitakas, the Tibetan Kanjur and Tanjur, a collection of rare works in Latin and other western languages, and a complete set of important research journals among its priceless possessions, is the The Adyar Library and Research Centre (ALRC).

Founded in 1886 by Colonel Olcott with a small but valuable collection of the Founders' books. Originally situated in the Headquarters building, it was shifted in 1968 to a more spacious one, better suited to its growing needs. It has always been one of the important aspects of the work at Adyar, both for members and for the public; moreover, today it is one of the well known oriental libraries in the world, dedicated to research and publication in the field of eastern civilization, philosophy and religion.  It contains over 250,000 printed volumes and around 20,000 palm-leaf manuscripts from India, Sri Lanka, China, and other places, a few of which are kept on display for visitors.  The printed books include rare indological publications in several languages and a fine collection of works on different religions, philosophies and cultures.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Essay Prize on Contemporary Women's Writing

Contemporary Women’s Writing Essay Prize

The Journal of Contemporary Women’s Writing (Oxford University Press) is delighted to announce the launch of the 2017 Essay Prize. The Contemporary Women’s Writing Essay Prize aims to encourage new scholarship in the field of contemporary women’s writing, recognise and reward outstanding achievement by new researchers and support the professional development of next generation scholars.

The winner of the inaugural 2016 Essay Prize was Mary Horgan for “About Change: Ali Smith’s Numismatic Modernism.” You can read Mary’s essay here. Three further submissions were Highly Commended and have been published in the current issue of the journal.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Do you have it in you to 'mould minds in millions'?

Can you bring about change in five schools in two years, impacting the lives of 1,000 students in TWO years’ time?

If you are confident that you have it in you, and if you have demonstrated leadership qualities through work in academic and extracurricular activities, yes! you are eligible to apply for this prestigious Gandhi Fellowship.

The Gandhi Fellowship is open for any graduate, and there’s a stipend of Rs.14,000 per month with a  phone allowance of Rs.600 per month, rent-free accommodation and all other permissible allowances for TWO years.

You have to apply online only. Apply HERE.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Lit Quiz @ Deva Matha, Kuravilangad

Lit Quiz 2016-17
16th Edition of the
Intercollegiate English Literary
Quiz Competition
Organized by the
PG & Research Department of English
Deva Matha College
Kuravilangad, Kottayam, Kerala

For more details, click on the brochure below.

Friday, 13 January 2017

On a treasure hunt @ the Chennai Book Fair

Adventures of a Bibliophile
- Pheba K Paul, II MA English

There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island. Best of all you can enjoy these treasures every day of your life – Walt Disney

I had been waiting to go on this treasure hunt for the last 6 months (The last Chennai book fair was 6 months ago). So, there I was at the 40th Chennai Book Fair, on a Sunday afternoon in January, all geared up for the hunt.

At the entrance to the fair, there were many ticket counters. I felt my hopes dash as I saw the serpentine queue at the counters. But before I could even sigh, I had reached the counter. The staffs at the counter were doing a great job. I moved on to the stalls to search for my treasures.

I was happy to see enthusiastic children pulling their parents from stall to stall. I had thought that children’s interest in books was slowly dying these days. At a stall with children’s books, many mothers were searching through the piles of books to get the best for their young ones. At another stall selling used books, I saw a little boy pleading with his mother pulling at her hand while placing his hand on a book, “Ma, please ma. Please buy this book. I will read it ma.” His pleading eyes took me back down memory lane where I saw another little girl pulling at her mother’s hand every time she saw a book stall on the road. Well, that little girl was now digging for treasure at the book stalls with her mother beside her smiling approvingly and helping in the search (That’s me! if you haven’t guessed it by now).

Harvesting Love!

“‘Twenty five rupees???...!!!”

‘Aama ma!’

“That’s too much. I’ll give 20 each and take two! Give me two sugarcanes for forty rupees! Here have it!”

A lady alighting from her luxury sedan along with her daughter, was bargaining intensely and fervently ‘in all seriousness,’ with a poor old man - at a roadside stall - that had sprouted up right in time for the festival of pongal!

‘Varaadhu ma! Engalukku katupidiyaagaathu!
(not possible madam. It wont tally profitably for us!)

“Enna ma? why are you trying to cheat me first thing in the morning? This is too much. I came much in ‘advance’ of pongal just to get it at a discounted price, but even today if you are selling these sugarcane for 25 Rs, then what will I do?”

Illa ma. You can ask all the road-side vendors in this part of Anna Nagar if you want! But it’s not possible.

Onnum vendam! (i don't need them!) Come girlie let’s go! 

Saying thus, she leaves the place in a huff with her daughter, seething with anger, yet very happily contented and heaving a sigh of great satisfaction that… that… she didn’t have to part with her ‘saved by a whisker,’ ‘huge sum,’ of money from her wallet!

An incident that distressed me among a couple of other bystanders - very very much - this morning, even as I was sipping my cuppa chaai in the chill-bogi morning!

This impactful incident indeed set my mind wondering!

Without a teeny-weeny twinge of conscience, she stopped short of buying it for a paltry sum of Rupees five!

This set my mind wondering!

Well, can we even make a bid to bargain for a fiver at a branded retailer or at the mushrooming poshy Supermarkets that have sprouted up by the dozen in each nook and corner of the city?

Hell no!

The fixed price tag offers no defence or resistance of any means, for all unsuspecting customers who foot the bill with the meekiest cringe and get the produce without a whimper!

Just for the bookworms...

That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet. - Jhumpa Lahiri

When I started reading The Devil in the White City, I realised that just a couple of weeks earlier I had spent a few days in exactly the same era — the end of the 19th century. Just that it is Chicago this time while earlier it was Panama when I was reading The Path Between the Seas. While the French were struggling to build a canal in Panama, people in Chicago were getting ready to host the World Fair and trying to outdo the French who had hosted one earlier in Paris where the Eiffel Tower was showcased. The same sense of excitement for building something new and big existed in both cases — an extremely difficult canal to build in one while the Ferris wheel in another — and both comparing and borrowing from the existing mega-structures such as the Eiffel Tower and the Central Park in New York. The fear of diseases was equally prominent on the people’s mind in both places.

The journey with books can take you to places you have never seen, and at times when you didn’t exist or wouldn’t exist. A journey taking you long distances in the future or in the past.

Exactly like the wormholes that allow travel in space and time.

How easy or hard it is to get in and out of these wormholes defines how good the book is. There are some that are really hard to get into, but harder to get out. These are the ones that give you a literary hangover. But you never really get out completely. You always carry some bits of this journey with you for the rest of your life.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Confy @ Rasipuram GAC

PG & Research Department of English
Thiruvalluvar Government Arts College
Rasipuram (Tk), Namakkal (Dt) – 637401, TN

Invites you for an

International Conference
Hegemony and Resistance:
Textualising and Contextualising
11 February 2017

Abstracts in about 200 words and full papers in about 2000 words related to the thrust areas of the seminar outlined above are invited. Abstracts and papers are required to be typed in MS Word Format, with font size 12, Times New Roman Style. Both abstracts and papers should be sent to the e-mail ID and the hardcopy of the same along with the duly filled in registration form should be sent through post or courier.

Last date for registering as a participant and sending the abstract: 06 Feb 2017.
For more details and for the brochure, click HERE

'Tintin and the Soviets' - finally...

Tintin has discovered his inner Rambo and is ready to give Russian bully boys a taste of their own medicine in a book, which will go on sale in France on Wednesday.

But before Moscow condemns it as another piece of Western Russophobia, this has nothing to do with Vladimir Putin.

Tintin and the Soviets is finally being published in colour more than eight decades after the comic book first appeared, at a time when Europe was also fretting about a rising Russian menace.

Unlike the rest of his adventures, the book that launched the boy hero in 1930 only ever appeared in black and white.

But to cries of sacrilege from the purists and even its late creator’s secretary, Tintin’s publishers Casterman are issuing a colour version of the story in French where the young reporter gives a rogue’s gallery of Russian baddies what for.

For decades the viscerally anti-Communist story — which first appeared in the Belgian Catholic weekly Le Vingtieme Siecle (The 20th Century) — was not regarded as a full part of the Tintin canon.

It was only in 1999, 16 years after the death of Tintin’s creator Herge, that it was recognised as part of the official 24-story series.

Momo freaks of all hues! Unite!!

Are you a foodie? - a momo freak in particular?

Then this one's straight out there just for you!

The Friends of DakshinaChitra present a unique combination of street food and a garden show.

As part of the event, food experts have been roped in to authentically reproduce street food from each State. The list of food items includes biryani, appam, parotta, puttu, tikka, rolls, momos, samosas, chat, kulfis and more.

The garden show will feature rare and exotic plants nurtured by professional green thumbs; visitors can pick up seeds and cuttings for their own gardens. Among the flowering plants, the show will feature petunias, gerberas, adeniums and a lot more.

The two-day event will take place in DakshinaChitra on January 15 and 16, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Political Novels: 'Biased Representatives' or 'Impartial Observers'?

Why political novels are akin to gunshots in the midst of a concert!

Literature is a powerful tool that helps writers plumb the depths of the human psyche and pluck out the hidden dependencies and scars of a particular era. Although fiction allows writers the latitude to create and imagine lives, most authors of political novels tend to focus on capturing the emotional zeitgeist of the times. Through an emphasis on the large movements of history, they seek to understand the private moments of sadness and explore the sounds and flavours of a forgotten era.

Partition has been billed as a distressing phase in the subcontinent’s history. The tragedy and turmoil that surrounded the birth of Pakistan has been likened to the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust. Many novelists from India and Pakistan have provided scathing accounts of this period.

A majority of fiction presents a darkened view of a historical moment that brought a tectonic shift in priorities and redrew the map of the subcontinent. More often than not, these works build narratives around political themes and motifs to recreate the times and bring emotions to the fore.

The nineteenth century French writer Stendhal would have viewed the growing emphasis on politics as little more than a gunshot in the middle of concert. Orhan Pamuk firmly believes such political novels must accomplish the unrealistic task of understanding everyone to “construct the largest whole”. This method demands a degree of objectivity that is seldom found in political novels about Partition as it is difficult to achieve.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Seminar @ Jamal Mohamed

Jamal Mohamed College (Autonomous)
TIRUCHIRAPPALLI - 620 020, Tamil Nadu
Organizes a
One-day National Seminar
(Under UGC Autonomous Grant)
23rd February 2017
Organised by

Receipt of Abstract (with Fee) : 25-01-2017
Receipt of full paper : 07-02-2017
Date of seminar : 23-02-2017

Monday, 9 January 2017

Confy @ Bishop Heber

click to enlarge

Confys/Seminars Ahead: Jan 2017 to March 2017

1. “(His)tory, Her-story and 'Other' Narratives: Revisions and Re-interpretations in Story-telling” 
at Reva University, Bangalore, 
– 3, 4 February 2017, HERE

2. “Good Place: Representations of the Utopic” NEW
at University of Kalyani, Nadia, West Bengal
 8, 9 February 2017, HERE

3. “Thinking Literature Across Continents” 
at University of North Bengal, 
– 24, 25 March 2017, HERE & HERE

4. World Shakespeare Conference, 
at Kolkata, West Bengal
– 28 Jan to 06 February 2017, HERE

5. International Conference on Language, Literature And Culture, 
at Institute of Advanced Studies in English, Pune, Maharashtra
03 to 05 February 2017, HERE

Seminar @ Pondicherry University

Department of English
Pondicherry University
Puducherry - 605 014
Organizes a
Two day International Seminar on
New Feminist Writings:
Emancipation to Representation
9 & 10 March 2017
Thrust areas for Discussion
1. Feminism - Theoretical formulations
2. Feminism in India - Literary responses
3. Eco-feminism
4. Dalit Feminism
5. Aboriginal Feminism
6. Body writing
7. Sexual Politics
7. Marxist feminism
8. Feminine stereotypes in Media and Literature
9. Queer feminism
10. Women in social media
11. Any other theme related to the main theme

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Markus Zusak on his 'Book Thief' and more...

‘Books don’t care how educated you are’

The Book Thief was on the New York Times best-seller list for 375 weeks and has been translated into over 40 languages. But, ‘I feel removed from it’, says Markus Zusak

Though his first three novels — The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, and When Dogs Cry — won Australian author Markus Zusak a number of awards, it was The Book Thief (2005) that catapulted him to international fame. 

Set in war-torn Germany and narrated by Death, the story of Liesel Meminger and her family hiding a Jew in their basement from the Nazis was masterfully told, unsettling and moving. Zusak, winner of the Margaret A. Edwards Award from the American Library Association, is a speaker at The Hindu Lit for Life 2017.

Excerpts from an email interview with Markus Zusak by Radhika Santhanam.

While your first few books are more typically young adult fiction or coming-of-age novels, The Book Thief is different: it’s for young adults but also for older adults. What makes it stand apart?

I don’t know, to tell you the truth, sometimes The Book Thief just feels like its own thing, and I feel almost removed from it. I know it was just a book I had different ambitions for in the writing. I honestly thought it would be my least successful book; so at one point, I just went, ‘Well I might as well do it exactly how I want to’. The way I set it apart for myself is simply that I’ve written five novels that have been published, and four of them really mean something to me, and one of them means everything to me, and that’s The Book Thief.

How did you decide to make Death the main character? Death’s voice is unique: he’s understanding, curious, even compassionate, not the morbid way in which we understand him generally.

I just thought that we always say that war and death are like best friends, so who better to be hanging around during wartime? It was a very complicated thing to get right, though. At first Death was too sardonic and sadistic, so I made Liesel the narrator, then a simpler third person narration… It wasn’t until I thought that Death might be scared of humans that the whole book started making sense.

How difficult was it to write a book differently about a subject as well explored as life in Nazi Germany?

I never thought of it as a Holocaust novel or even a book set in Nazi Germany, to be honest. It was simply a kind of language I’d discovered — like scratching something open in my mind, reaching down and pulling out the world of Himmel Street.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Chennai Book Fair 2017

The much awaited Annual Chennai Book Fair starts on Friday, 06 January 2017 and will go on until 19 January 2017 at St. George School on Poonamallee High Road.

The stalls will be put up in alphabetical order, and book lovers have an additional option of registering for e-tickets through a unique mobile application too!

In addition, point of sale machines have also been made available for customers to swipe their credit/debit cards. A common pool of 50 such machines would also be available to help small publishers conduct their business.

The organizers, in a bid to help customers who may not have small change for purchase, have arranged for rupee tokens in exchange for higher denomination currency notes at the venue.

The fair will be open between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. on weekdays and between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. during weekends.

Confy @ Cochin

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Rainbow Film Fest @ Chennai

Welcome to the
Chennai Rainbow Film Festival
The Leather Bar - The Park Chennai 
601, Anna Salai, Chennai, India 600017

The Chennai Rainbow film festival is a celebration of all things LGBT and addresses important issues through films, songs, dance and more.

As a community initiative, the CRFF aims to bring noteworthy films by national and international talent to audiences. This includes films that may not otherwise see distribution in area theatres.

04 January: Opening Ceremony
05 January: Cultural Programmes and film screenings at MM Theatre, Kodambakkam
06 January: Music show, movie screenings at Alliance Francaise de Madras, Nungambakkam
07 January: Panel Discussions, Cultural Performances, Movie screenings at MSSW, Egmore
08 January: Screening of films like Stonewall and Ladies and Gentlewomen at AGS Cinemas, T Nagar.

Entry is free. For more details, log on to

About: The Chennai Rainbow Film Festival organised by Chennai Dost, seems to be picking up pace with every passing year, and this year seems to be a culmination of all the hard work from the previous editions. The festival will not only host film screenings but will also host talks, stage dances and music concerts as well — all to bring to light the issues that the LGBTQI community faces.

Thinking in stories...

The so-called post-truth society is not primarily the result of our inability to focus on facts; it is due to our failure to read stories deeply.

“All major political movements have depended on the power of stories.”

Say the word ‘thinking’, and the image evoked is that of abstract ideas, facts, numbers and data. But what if I say that this is our first and most common error about the nature of thinking? As religions have always known, human thinking is conducted primarily in stories, not facts or numbers.

Human beings might be the only living animals that can think in stories. Facts and information of some sort exist for a deer and a wolf too, but fiction, and thinking in fiction?

Now, stories are celebrated for many things: as repositories of folk knowledge or accumulated wisdom, as relief from the human condition, as entertainment, as enabling some cognitivist processes, even as the best way to get yourself and your children to fall asleep! But all this misses the main point about stories: they are the most common, most pervasive, and probably the oldest way for humans to think.

Friday, 30 December 2016


Our Hearty Congratulations to E. Anderson, I MA English, for having topped [shortlisted in the Top 15] in the renowned Winter 2016 Essay Writing Contest conducted by Kudos!

Our Hearty Congratulations to Mohan Rajaguru, I MA English, for having his research article published with a reputed publisher in Madurai, as part of the Proceedings of an International Confy. Kudos!

May the laurels keep coming!

All of us at the Department of English, MCC are proud of you.

Keep up the spirit!

By the way, for those of you who are interested, I just got a mail from Ms. Lesia Kovtun from NoPlag.Com announcing a $3500 Student Scholarship from Noplag by testing your writing skills.

Well, our Academic blog is pleased to announce that we are collaborating with NoPlag.Com in their pioneering and laudable initiative. You can apply for the same by clicking on the link HERE. More details will be up shortly as and when they arrive.

Best wishes, 

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

At last! 'Critical Voices' is ready to roll...

A big thank you from Benet and Rufus to all our friends, colleagues, research scholars, students and well-wishers and the academic fraternity at large. 
‘Critical Voices’ has at last seen the 'light of day', with months of hard and impactful labour. We thank our excellent team of vibrant volunteers who've been with us all through, helping us out right from typography to typesetting! Thank you all. 
 Our sincere thanks to our esteemed publishers Winnerman Publications for the vibrant layout, dynamic design and excellent typesetting of 'Critical Voices'. Thank you Sir & Madam. Copies of ‘Critical Voices’ can be had from Dr. Benet, National College, Trichy or directly from the Publishers too.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

A Featured Inspirational on #Nirmaldasan

I, Nirmaldasan, am a disciple of Dr. Nirmal Selvamony, from whom I still learn the principles of poetic composition”, echoes the modest profile of Dr Watson Solomon, while introducing himself on his website. Nirmaldasan aka Watson Solomon, is a myriad-minded prodigy of sorts, whose interests span media studies, literature, creative writing, mathematics, chess, ecology and more!

One look at his portfolio and you would be in awe with wonder amazement [and a little of envy too!] at his diverse range of interests and multifarious vistas of research. Having known Nirmaldasan for more than a decade now, it’s my pleasure to do a small feature on Nirmaldasan.

It’s not every passing day that you get the chance of stumbling upon an unassuming, modest, and gentlemanly person like Nirmaldasan - a Prodigy of Sorts – the Creator of the Strain Index, a formula that measures readability in texts, and the creator of the Green Density Measure, an eco-critical tool for analysing literary texts.

About Nirmaldasan

Well, Nirmaldasan is the pen name of N. Watson Solomon. He has 15 years of journalistic experience, including a decade with The Hindu. He also has rich academic experience, including a two-year stint as Head — Department of Media Studies, Hindustan College of Arts & Science, and also with the Central University of Tamil Nadu, Tiruvarur.

He has co-authored Plain Language in Plain English (2010), Understanding News Media (2006) and the tinai series (2001-04). He has written three books of poetry. He is a co-editor of Essays in Ecocriticism (2007) and a co-founder of Indian Journal Of Ecocriticism (2008). Most of his writings are available online:

He is an avid and passionate blogger, and has his own website where he posts regularly on Media Studies. Nirmaldasan is also passionate about writing in Tamil. His article titled, 'தொல்காப்பியம் சுட்டும் செய்தியியல்' in his blog HERE reveals his passion for the language.

Nirmaldasan and Media Studies

Having been with The Hindu for well over a decade in a Senior Editorial Capacity, Nirmaldasan not only has a nose for news, but has also outlined an effective poetics for Media Studies. 

click on pic to enlarge
His first ever online articles start way back in the year 2000 when he writes about ‘Ethical Editing’, ‘the Fairness Doctrine’, ‘An Integrative Model of Development Communication,’ and on the ‘Glamour quotient that has overwhelmed Media Studies’, etc. More on his voluminous output on Media Studies can be accessed HERE.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Youth Leaders Travel and Learning Camp 2017

The Asian Youth Leaders Travel and Learning Camp (AYLTLC) 2017
is honored to invite students
Madras Christian College
to participate in the
to be held in Singapore
from 9th to 13th February 2017


Adversity and Resilience: Reminiscences on Cyclone Vardah and MCC

The ravage wrought by #cycloneVardah has taken away one third of the city’s vast green cover!

A sylvan canopy to singara Chennai – a canopy that was succour, shelter and sustenance to all and sundry!

Quite interestingly the word ‘avenue’ that forms part of the 'street-nomenclatures' in Chennai and its suburbs, is translated (in Tamil) to mean ‘trees on either side of the street’!

And, yes! Chennai abounds in avenues, avenues and avenues! Avenues of all hues and shades adorn every ‘Pet’ or ‘Bakkam’ or ‘Nagar’ or ‘Oor’ in Chennai! Even the area in which I reside is lined up with numerous avenues boasting of enormous green cover!

Yep! Anna Nagar, Ashok Nagar, Nolambur, and hundreds of these city sidewalks are bulwarked on either sides with trees that lend their invigorating shade to cattle, cars and costermongers alike!

Selaiyur Hall #postVardah
Our own evergreen Madras Christian College has lost a huge number of trees, around 500 by approximate accounts - and double the number have also been damaged in the vardah fury, a damage that’s irreplaceable by all means!

Any student or staff who walks into the sylvan MCC campus #postVardah would be quite disheartened and disquieted, with disbelief writ large in their visage, at the violent havoc that has smitten its salubrious flora and fauna alike!

The gutters sport a desolate look, while the roads leading to the Halls wear a gaping lacuna in its ‘grove’y habitations! The beautifully arrayed stretch of sky-high trees that adorn either side of the 'Zoology-tank road' that leads up to the Princi’s house, wears a devastated look too! Indeed, the more you look at the devastation the more you tend to feel the disquiet within your soul reverberating on and on!