Fruits of Knowledge: Polemics, Humour and Moral Education in the Writings of Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, Lila Majumdar and Nabaneeta Dev Sen

Authors

  • Barnita Bagchi, Utrecht University, Netherlands

Abstract

This paper analyses literary sources, by three women writing in Bengali, from c.1900 to  contemporary times. These writings offer far more complex, heterogeneous, innovative and creative strategies for the shaping, reform and moral education of subjects, than have hitherto been recognised. Authors focused on in the article are Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain (1880-1932), Lila Majumdar (1908-2007) and Nabaneeta Dev Sen (1938-). “Moral education†and “reform†have tended to carry with them a stereotypical aura of sententiousness, didacticism, humourlessness and aridness. I argue, utilising tools from literary and gender studies, that polemical and fictional writing by Bengali women writers such as Rokeya, Lila and Nabaneeta repay attention to their stylistic fertility, their ability to craft and reinvent humour and their creative reinvention of genres. The projects of reform and moral education of subjects (not only female ones) that emerge from such writing are nuanced, multilayered, subversive and wickedly intelligent. 

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Author Biography

Barnita Bagchi, Utrecht University, Netherlands

Barnita Bagchi teaches and researches Comparative Literature at Utrecht University, Netherlands. Her publications include the edited volume The Politics of the (Im)possible: Utopia and Dystopia Reconsidered (SAGE, 2012), the co-edited volume Webs of History: Information, Communication, and Technology from Early to Post-Colonial India (Manohar, 2005), an edition and part-translation of Rokeya Hossain’s Sultana’s Dream and Padmarag (Penguin, 2005), and the co-edited volume Connecting Histories of Education: Transnational Exchanges and Cross-cultural Transfers (forthcoming from Berghahn in 2014). 

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Published

2013-06-15

How to Cite

Bagchi, Utrecht University, Netherlands, B. (2013). Fruits of Knowledge: Polemics, Humour and Moral Education in the Writings of Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, Lila Majumdar and Nabaneeta Dev Sen. Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature, 7(2), 126–138. Retrieved from https://journals.iium.edu.my/asiatic/index.php/ajell/article/view/373

Issue

Section

Articles on Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain