The Department of English, FASS plays host to regular seminars and talks by guests, comprising visiting academics and writers, and staff from the department. The topics are wide ranging covering literature and other art forms, philosophy, history and other disciplines, but are always engaging. Author readings are also featured. As well as being attended by staff and students of the department, these seminars are open to the wider university community and the public. Seminars are for one hour and are generally held on Fridays.

The seminar series, inaugurated in March 2016, is named after Lloyd Fernando, the department’s first Malaysian Professor of English who served as Head of Department from 1967 until his retirement in 1980. The LFSS is a means of disseminating our own research and to be informed by the work of others.

Details of upcoming seminars as well as past seminars can be found in the Department website as well as Facebook page.

For further information and to suggest speakers, please contact our department staff:

Dr Shalini Nadaswaran
E-mail: shalininadaswaran@um.edu.my

“Playing the Post-Colonial Double Bind? Distracted Theory, Translation, and Identity’s Last Secret”

Speaker: Professor Makarand R. Paranjape
Date:  29 September 2017 
Time: 3:00 - 5:00 PM 
Venue: Dean’s Meeting Room 2, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Speaker’s Profile: 


Makarand R. Paranjape is Professor of English at the Centre for English Studies, School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He read English for his B.A. (Hons.) at St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi and continued in the same subject for his Masters and Doctorate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (USA). Among his recent book publications are: Cultural Politics in Modern India: Postcolonial Prospects (Routledge, 2016), Colourful Cosmopolitanism, Global Proximities (Routledge, 2016), The Death and Afterlife of Mahatma Gandhi (Penguin Random House, 2015), and Making India: Colonialism, National Culture, and the Afterlife of Indian English Authority (Springer, 2013).  Makarand was the Inaugural DAAD Global South Visiting Fellow and Erich Auerbach Visiting Professor in World Literature, University of Tuebingen (May-July 2015 and July-December 2014), Visiting Senior Research Fellow, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore (January-April 2015), Inaugural ICCR Chair in Indian Studies, South Asian Studies Programme, National University of Singapore (2010-2011), CAPES Visiting Professor, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil (August-December 2011), and Shivdasani Visiting Fellow, Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, University of Oxford (October-December 2009). Makarand is also a columnist for Swarajya, DNA, and Mail Today.

About the Talk: Theory at first, poetry at last, this presentation teases out two pieces of the post-colonial puzzle, with translation serving as link. It engages the extraordinary, but little-known story of Gayatri Chakravarty Spivak’s textual contretemps with the “mad” Bangla poet, Binoy Majumdar, who long ago wrote a collection of love poems to her.  In recounting this episode, I play two extracts of my own work, one from Cultural Politics in Modern India (Routledge, 2016), and the other from an unpublished trans-genre composition, “Identity’s Last Secret.” In the first part, I ask if Spivak’s notion of the “double bind” is not actually a double blind, as excruciating as it is dazzling? In the second, I grapple with “identity’s last secret,” wondering how from “distracted theory,” we are led to translation as the sublime object of comparative aesthetics. Yet such is the double bind of theory that like the poet’s unrequited love it can never be translated—or following Spivak, de-transcendentalized—into reality. In the end, does the poet’s adored object (ishwari) remain merely a “dream girl?” and “the dream of postcoloniality in the face of globalization” just a false hope? 

 “The Endless Possibilities of Ordinary Life”: The Post-colonial Irish Novel

Speaker: Dr. Derek Hand 
Date:  16 June 2017
Time: 10:00 AM – 12:00 Noon
Venue: Dataran Sastera (Arts Concourse), Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Speaker’s Profile:

 Derek Hand

Dr Derek Hand is a Senior Lecturer and Head of the School of English in Dublin City University. The Liffey Press published his book John Banville: Exploring Fictions in 2002. He edited a special edition of the Irish University Review on John Banville in 2006. He was awarded an IRCHSS Government of Ireland Research Fellowship for 2008-2009. His A History of the Irish Novel: 1665 to the present was published by Cambridge University Press in 2011 and is now available in paperback. He is interested in Irish writing in general and has published articles on W.B. Yeats, Elizabeth Bowen, Colum McCann, Molly Keane, Benedict Kiely, Mary Lavin, and William Trevor and on contemporary Irish fiction. He has lectured on Irish writing in the USA, Portugal, Sweden, Singapore, Brazil, Italy, Sweden and France. He is now working on a critical study of recent Irish fiction entitled The Celtic Tiger Irish Novel 1994-2010: modernity and mediocrity. He is also currently co-editing a collection of essays on John McGahern entitled, Essays on John McGahern: Assessing a Literary Legacy to be published by Cork University Press.

About the Talk The colonised space is always the place of analogy: it is always being compared with places and experiences and supposed realities elsewhere, with the centre of empire, of which the colony can only be but a pale reflection. In this talk I plan to offer an account of how the Irish novel as a form responds to this predicament, and how it sets up a dialogue with and against metropolitan voices of domination.  This is not simply a case of the Empire Writing Back, but rather is a rendering of the colonised world in conversation with itself. The novel form’s link to modernity means it is a site where the emergence of the individual into modernity can be witnessed. For the Irish person, burdened with the often-debilitating effect of the imposed stereotype, meaning that she/he is already always known, the space afforded by the novel might allow for the complexities of the Irish individual to be played out. Of course, many novels present this as a struggle between the rights of the person in conflict with the pressures of traditional modes of community and shared experience. In Ireland this conflict is compounded by the fact that the individual person has been habitually overwhelmed in the depiction of individuals as representations of a community and of the nation. The tension in much of the best of Irish novel writing is between this wish to configure and acknowledge specifically Irish traits and characteristics, as well as the demand to recognise Ireland as a space where it also possible to be simply human. The consequence for the Irish novel, as it is for Irish culture generally, is that it has been and continues to be caught between the desire to be exceptional and the endless possibilities of ordinary life.

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Last Updated: 19/06/2019