EVENT Jun 10
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The Question of Representation in Contemporary Indian Literature

University of Tübingen
Organization: University of Tuebingen
Categories: Postcolonial, Hispanic & Latino, Interdisciplinary, Genre & Form, Popular Culture, Gender & Sexuality, Literary Theory, Women's Studies, World Literatures, Adventure & Travel Writing, Children's Literature, Comics & Graphic Novels, Drama, Narratology, Poetry, Aesthetics, Anthropology/Sociology, Classical Studies, Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies, Film, TV, & Media, Food Studies, History, Philosophy, African & African Diasporas, Asian & Asian Diasporas, Australian Literature, Canadian Literature, Caribbean & Caribbean Diasporas, Indian Subcontinent, Eastern European, Mediterranean, Middle East, Native American, Scandinavian, Pacific Literature
Event Date: 2024-06-10 to 2024-06-12 Abstract Due: 2024-03-15

Summer Workshop at the University of Tübingen, Germany

10-12.06.2024 (in person)


In Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, The Wife of Bath refers to the Aesopian fable of the painting of the lion. The lion complains about the painting, which demonstrates a man defeating a lion, and asserts that the painting would look very different if a lion had painted it.  And so asks the Wife of Bath: ‘Who painted the lion, tell me, who?’


If the dominant narrative is shaped by the powerful and the victorious, then voice, narration, and representation become powerful tools, especially for marginalized groups.. Re-examining and interrogating these frames of reference help to find new answers to important questions: who gets to tell whose story? Who has what at stake and who is representing whom? Where does the line between fiction and authentic representation get drawn?

Who is allowed to tell whose story? If in fiction one is allowed to only tell their own privately lived experiences, how is that fiction? What does it do to representation of groups that are already endangered?

In this context, the question of authentic voice and its representation looms paramount and the writing of literature its biggest ally.


Gayatri Chakrovarty Spivak asked in her influential work ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’ (1988), and scholarly work in literary and critical studies is still attempting to satisfactorily answer the question. Are the powerless ever able to raise their voice in a world where even the medium of language is biased to favor those in power?

Postcolonial and subaltern studies have repeatedly questioned the ways in which established ideologies suppress the needs and demands of the most vulnerable sections of a society. These questions take on even more significance in literature from India where issues of caste, class, religion and gender, and the many inbuilt inequalities and discriminations, constantly determine identity and its representation. The reading of literature presents a richer understanding of this new and complex world, where capitalism disrupts and catapults lives, and a postcolonial framework seeks to define itself without its colonial past, and not simply react to it.


The workshop’s interdisciplinary approach looks at the topic and the literary frameworks that surround it from two points of view: the literature on the page and its many facets, as well as the tools employed in the writing of that literature. The two-pronged outlook will help deepen the understanding of what is perceived as literature and its production. 

The workshop encompasses the wider areas of subaltern and postcolonial studies, as well as the craft employed in a work of literature. Researchers are invited to engage with the questions of representation and its nature in contemporary Indian literature, as well as in the wider postcolonial framework.


The following themes within research will be given priority for participation:


·      Subaltern and marginalized voices in Indian literature

·      Point of view and narrative in fiction

·      Representation of the subaltern

·      Identity and power in terms of religion, caste, class, gender, and sexuality

·      Writing and marginalized voices

·      Narrative and language

·      Revisionist narratives

·      Identity politics in Indian literature

·      The writing of contemporary Indian fiction

·      Identity in postcolonial literature

·      Postcolonial subjects and identities

·      Nation, nationalism and literature

·      Perspective and voice in creative writing


For an interdisciplinary approach, we encourage participants who work in literary studies, creative writing, history, philosophy, anthropology, cultural studies, linguistics, psychology, political sciences, sociology, and artificial intelligence for arts to apply.


We invite researchers to present 20 minute presentations of papers and articles. Abstracts of up to 300 words, with a brief bio note, and a short academic CV, should be sent to srishti.chaudhary@uni-tuebingen.de or on the form linked here:




Deadline: 15.03.2024

Notice of acceptance: 22.03.2024


The accommodation for the duration of the workshop for all participants is funded as a part of the Excellence Strategy of the German Federal and State Governments.

Transportation costs will have to be self-funded.


Srishti Chaudhary